The Name of The Star

Author: Maureen Johnson

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Series: Shades of London #1

Genre: YA, Paranormal/Horror

Rating:  4/5 

Recommendation: Ages 15+

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.

Maureen Johnson is the author of several YA novels including 13 Little Blue Envelopes. For me The Name of The Star was her best to date. When Rory arrives in London there’s a slow build in suspense, we know a murder has taken place, a copy-cat of Jack the Ripper’s first killing, but it takes some build-up before our heroine is connected to the sinister crimes. Rory does have special abilities, but she isn’t necessarily played as a special snowflake, she has the abilities for a reason, and so do lots of others, what makes her important to the Ripper case is a combination of not knowing about the abilities and being in the very wrong place at the utterly wrong time.

The Good-

  • I LOVED getting to know Rory and seeing her acclimate to British culture. She’s a great, spunk, brave heroine and she has some laugh-out-loud amazing lines. One of my favorites:

I come from people who know how to draw things out. Annoy a Southerner , and we will drain away the moments of your life with our slow, detailed replies until you are nothing but a husk of your former self and that much closer to death.

It’s funny because it’s true.

  • This book is deeply creepy. Not enough to keep me up at night (but then it’s very rare that even a really good horror movie does that) but definitely enough to give me the chills and have me looking over my shoulder for ghostly serial killers.
  • The secondary characters, with a few exceptions, are well written and solidly fleshed out. I loved Rory’s friendship with Jazza and Boo (ok, the names are a bit much, but they are nicknames…) and her romance with Jerome was sweet and steamy, if not quite as solid as I would have liked (I wanted to get to know Jerome better, and since we didn’t it was hard for me to say Rory did.)

Needs Improvement:

  • Some of the secondary characters (Charlotte, Caroline) fell pretty flat for me. They were very one note, they became props for me instead of nuanced characters.
  • I really wanted to get to know Stephen and Callum better, and understand more about the Shades. This wasn’t necessarily a mistake on Johnson’s part, Stephen and Callum got fleshed out enough to be individuals, there just wasn’t as much depth there as I would have liked, especially in the team’s interactions with each other, which often seemed forced. As far as the Shades, we learn some of the history as the book goes along, I just want more, which is probably a good thing since there will be sequels.
  • The ending(s)- I liked the wrap-up of the main storyline, I like that Johnson isn’t afraid to beat her characters up, as she proved throughout, so that was good for me. The VERY end however, it was spooky and definitely meant to move us toward the sequel, but it could result in some special snowflake treatment for Rory. I’m gonna withhold judgement until I see where Johnson goes with it.

Overall this book comes highly recommended. If you’re already a fan of Johnson, or if you’re a YA paranormal or horror fan you should definitely grab this one.

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