The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.
Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.
Ever since I first read 13 Little Blue Envelopes a few years back, I have been eager to read more by Maureen Johnson, but somehow never got around to it. I remember rushing out to buy this book the day it came out and then it sat on my shelf for a long time, until I received an ARC of the sequel in the mail and decided it was high time I had read this. Luckily, it surpassed my expectations and was a delightfully funny, creepy, and adventurous read that secured Maureen Johnson's spot on my favorite authors list.
Although I consider myself a bit of a history buff, I did not know much about Jack the Ripper before picking up The Name of the Star. It was clear Johnson had done her research and I learned more about Jack the Ripper by reading this book than I ever could have from a history textbook. Maureen Johnson took the Jack the Ripper mystery and truly made it her own. I was often on the edge of my seat and I can say this is one of the few books that actually freaked me out! Johnson did not shy away from giving necessary details and this made the book all the more intense and intriguing.
Rory was a fantastic protagonist. I immediately knew I would like her because when she found out her parents would be teaching for a year in England, she jumped at the chance to study abroad her senior year. I've often read young adult books where the main character gets an amazing chance to go abroad and just complains until they get there and realize how wrong they were. In the case of Rory, she was the complete opposite and I loved how adventurous and outgoing she was. Rory was funny and energetic and even a little awkward; she was completely real.
The plot was very complex and developed and the mystery was very well done. The Name of the Star is kind of a mash-up of genres (historical, paranormal, mystery, etc) and it worked so well. I was so caught up in Rory's stories and the mysteries that I finished the book in one day.
The secondary characters were well done too and I especially liked Jazza and Boo. Each person had a unique role in the story and there were no flat or unnecessary characters. The only thing I didn't completely love was the romance, mostly because I never truly saw the spark. But, I did like that The Name of the Star did not focus on the romance very much and was more dedicated to Rory and everything that was happening in London, because it would have seemed too forced otherwise. Still, I'm interested in seeing where Johnson will take things for them in the sequel.
All in all, I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to read this and I've already begun reading The Madness Underneath, book two in the series. I highly recommend The Name of the Star because it is a book any type of reader will enjoy and I'm eager to see what's next for Rory and the rest of the characters.
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars
September 29, 2011/Putnam Juvenile/372 Pages/Young Adult/Book One
Other books in this series: The Madness Underneath (February 2013)