Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Name of the Star (Shades of London, #1)Title:  The Name of the Star
Author:  Maureen Johnson
Series:  Shades of London
Publisher:  Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date:  September 29, 2011
Source:  purchased
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

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.

So, I wasn’t really expecting much from this novel. Maureen Johnson usually writes contemporary novels, and if you know me at all, you know that those aren’t really my thing. However, I was intrigued by the Ripper lore, and when I realized ghosts were involved, well, that changed everything.

There are some pretty common trends featured in this book that have a habit of making appearances in YA novels. First up, boarding school. Yep, we all fantasize about going away to school and being swept off our feet by a boy with an accent. So, I’ll forgive this particular development. Another inclination in YA novels is to have the entire story devoid of parental figures in order to allow the characters less limitations in their personal lives. So be it. I am the product of a very strict upbringing, and I would have done anything to escape that. Especially boarding school…unless it was an all-girls school. No thank you. As I said, I can forgive these tendencies, since I myself have daydreamed of both scenarios, and, well, I like my novels to be a form of escape, not an echo of reality.

My favorite element of this novel was Rory. It’s not often that I can say the heroine is my favorite part, even though it’s probably supposed to be. I really enjoyed the fact that Rory was just a normal girl who couldn’t overcome insane situations just because she was the protagonist. She needed help and had to make sacrifices for the people she cared about. The situations in the book were not made easy for her, and yet she still persevered. Oh, and she’s sarcastic. I love that in my protagonists, since I, too, resort to sarcasm, even in the most dire of situations.

Once I started reading this novel, I found I couldn’t put it down. For one thing, it gave me yet another reason to read in my English accent. Love that. But the story itself was strong, as were the supporting characters. Rory made friends with normal people and crushed on an average guy. She snuck out when the situation warranted and had fun in the meantime. Rory also hit the books. Like I said, normal girl. And I was so happy that the romance was in the background of the story. It wasn’t unimportant, but Rory’s gift needed to be addressed more than a possibly trivial relationship.

The Ripper-lore…gah, it had me drooling. I don’t know much about that horrific period, but what I was exposed to in this novel left me aching to research it further. I’m a geek, admittedly, but that kind of thing is just fascinating to me. I did an entire research paper on the JFK assassination in high school. Maybe my fascination is a bit morbid, but can you honestly say that your curiosity wasn’t peaked by the idea of Jack the Ripper, or a copy-cat, striking again?

Anyway, let’s go out on a positive note. My favorite line from the book: “…but that only reminded me that lambs are famous for being led to slaughter, or sometimes hanging out with lions in ill-advised relationships.” BURN!


  1. Great review. I have been trying to fit it into my reading and it sounds like I should do that sooner rather than later.

  2. I'm on the fence about this one.. but your review is convincing me to cross it..

    I'm not into rippers of any sort.. the kind that leave bloody entrails laying in the street, or even the kind that shows your undergarments after you have grown to big for you pants.

    Rippers + Me = no thank you. lol

    but I love that you rememinded me, she did start out writing contemp, so there will be more to this story then ripping of things.

    I'm just being silly now.. but seriously I read that it was about ripper lore.. and I was pretty turned off immediately, but I think i may give it a try..

    Oh, and everytime I come to your blog I laugh at your stary eyed pic. I think I told you I love it.. but i'm telling you again.. I love it. :)

  3. Steph - You should definitely make time for this one! :)

    April - I don't remember it being terribly gory. I wasn't that interested in reading it in the beginning either, but a friend rec'd it and said it was more about ghosts than anything, and it actually turned out to be a really enjoyable read. And thanks for the picture love. :)


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