Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review: The Name of the Star

Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Pages: 372
Source: Purchased
Why I read it: I love anything to do with historical mysteries and/or Jack the Ripper.


The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London, it's the start of a new life at a 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. 
What I thought: This book revolves around Rory (Aurora) a teen from Louisiana. Her family moves to England, where Rory decides to attend boarding school in London, at Wexford, a school in East London. While she is attending school there and adjusting to English/London life, a Jack the Ripper copycat begins killing on the same dates as the Ripper and leaving the bodies in the same locations. Rory begins seeing a mysterious man that no one else can seem to see, and finds out that she may be the Ripper's next victim.

This book really lived up to my expectations, especially after the disappointment of my last book. It had a nice blend of a mystery/thriller, some history and also a contemporary YA. The book is almost two genres in one. It starts out as a YA contemporary with a little romance and then morphs into a historical mystery/paranormal/thriller. I was expecting the paranormal from the blurb on the book jacket, so this didn't come out of the blue and surprise me. Rory also realistically dealt with the shock of realizing that she could see ghosts. Johnson had a nice balance between YA contemporary and thriller/mystery at the end.

One thing about the book that I loved was that the romance was not overdone. And it wasn't a love triangle! I have become very tired of books where the main character's life is in danger, but she cares more about what her love interest is doing or thinking and kissing her love interest. The hint of romance was nice, and I am so grateful that it didn't overpower the story, because honestly, I was reading this book for the serial killer madness, not romance.

There was a little info dumping, especially in regards to the history of Jack the Ripper, but it was done in snippets of newscasts, and in the character of Jerome, the main love interest of Rory. However, I thought his infodumping was fairly realistic, because I know I have a similar personality, and I have an interest in Jack the Ripper, as well. I also probably info dump about topics I'm interested in, like Jerome.

As for the other characters, they were all well developed, and I especially enjoyed that Johnson, in a nod to modern English culture, features an English/Indian character, Bhuvana, or Boo, as she likes to be called. I thought Jazza was a nice counterpoint to both Rory and Boo, but she wasn't a caricature. And I also liked Alistair, and the little twist with his story. I am excited about the ghost police and the dynamics of the group and their mission, especially in regards to the next book.

I thought the cover was misleading. The girl on the cover is definitely not Rory and the shadowy "Ripper" behind her harkens back to the original Ripper, but doesn't really pertain to this particular novel. I assume that the girl is possibly one of the victims, but I feel like the cover doesn't accurately reflect what is actually in the novel.

While I think Johnson did do a good job of making this a standalone novel, she did set it up at the very end for a sequel, and I can't wait for it! She has left me wanting more, with that little twist at the end and I'm interested to see how the next book will play out.

Overall, I give this book 5 stars. I really loved it.

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