Monday, September 26, 2011

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

[description 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 one of my absolute favorite authors; I'll read anything she writes no matter the premise, and her work has never let me down. The Name of the Star, while it is not my favorite of hers, is certainly no exception to this "Maureen writes awesome books" rule. 

Jack the Ripper is one of my favorite serial killers, assuming "favorite" is the right word to use there, so when I found out it was part of the premise behind this book, I could not have been happier. I was a bit skeptical as how the Ripper murders could be made suspenseful because they could be predicted, but I should not have been worried at all. I enjoyed how well-paced the murders occurred; although some were far apart in terms of the actual date of occurrence, the narration in between killings goes by so quickly and are so full of action that it doesn't feel like much time has passed at all. While the first half of the novel is sadly uneventful as Rory acclimates to English life, the latter half is full of intrigue and mystery of the paranormal variety. While the paranormal aspect I felt was sadly underdeveloped to the point of occasional laughter, it was at the very least a creepy and suspenseful concept that made the book constantly exciting.

It wouldn't be a Maureen Johnson book without some delightfully quirky characters, and even with the tense murderous atmosphere, there is plenty of that fun. Rory may not be as wacky as some of Johnson's other narrators, but her past and reaction to the new English life around her provide from some absolutely hilarious moments. I also loved her new boarding school friends, for whether they were teaching her their fun English ways or simply dealing with their own drama, they provided many wonderful moments of laughter or friendship. I also loved the people Rory meets once the novel becomes a bit darker, but because it's best not to know much about them before reading, we'll just leave it at "they're cool." 

Although I wish it started a bit faster and developed its paranormal side a bit more, The Name of the Star is definitely a promising start to a new series I am sure will have as much or even more action, suspense, humor, and intrigue than book one does. 

The Name of the Star will be released September 29-- this Thursday! 

Book details: Putnam/Hardcover/$16.99

Source: sent by publisher for review


  1. How true has she been in depicting what the Ripper murders were? They were hideously gruesome, misogynistic and utterly hateful murders - has this been glossed over?

  2. Everyone has been raving about this book - I'll definitely have to check it out!

  3. Adele: Not really! Even though Rory is never really there to see them, they're still gruesome, even though some minor details from the original murders are changed. I can't recall specific instances but I think the gender may have been switched in one and possibly ages. I'll have to reread and see!