Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Posted 21 September, 2011 by Heather in Heather, Heather Book Review, Uncategorized / 11 Comments

The Name of the Star
(Shades of London #1)
by Maureen Johnson
Published on September 29, 2011
by Putnam Juvenile
(my copy picked up at BEA 2011, huge thanks to Pushy for waiting in line for me after I went home!)
Book Description (From Amazon):

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.

My Thoughts:
The Name of the Star is a departure from the somethimes fluffy, often angsty, totally awkward girl-grows-up type of young adult books Maureen Johnson is known for. I’ve enjoyed her books, and I was especially excited to hear that she was writing a new series of paranormal YA books.

Louisiana native Rory Deveaux gets a chance to spend her senior year at a boarding school in London when her lawyer parents take a teaching gig in London. The day she arrives on British soil, a series of Jack the Ripper copy-cat murders spring up, and Rory winds up being the only one to witness the murderer. The problem is, Rory’s the only one who can actually see the murderer–her roomate Jazza looked right at the space he occupied and only saw air. While Rory tries to acclimate to her new school and an entire new way of doing things in a different country, the murders continue as the killer seems to be focusing on drawing her into his game.

I haven’t read any books that featured Americans in British boarding schools, so Rory’s take on this type of life was new and refreshing to me. Maureen Johnson has a way of writing that brings the sights, sounds, and smells of London and the boarding school vividly to life, all while making the actual words light and breezy. The trademark wit and usual thorough research we expect from the author are present in copious amounts in this book, and they just add depth and character to everything from the scenes where the characters are walking down a dank alleyway to relaxing in a bedroom at the boarding school.

The Name of the Star is a mystery and thriller, first and foremost, with a smaller dose of romance between Rory and Jerome, dashes of comedic relief just when its needed, and the right amount of horror injected into the murders to give it the right edge. I give this one a five, and I absolutely cannot wait until book two comes out after the ending on this one!


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I'm a PhD chemist who loves sarcasm, music, and books-paranormal, mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, and romance. Most of my free time is spent at the martial arts studio these days--whether practicing Combat Hapkido or reading books while watching my son's Taekwondo classes, or even working up a sweat with Kickboxing for fun. Goodreads

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11 Responses to “Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson”

  1. Lori Strongin

    Definitely a Maureen Johnson fan over here, and I am super excited for this new series! Okay, I feel guilty admitting this, but one of my favorite things I got to do in London on my last visit was the Jack the Ripper walking tour through Whitechappel. So yeah, this book definitely hits my Must Read Now button. Thanks for the heads up about this one!


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  2. Heather

    I don't know why I haven't read any books set in boarding schools, aside from the fact that I'm one of the few people who haven't read the Harry Potter series yet. But this was really interesting. Great book, definitely pick it up.

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  3. Heather

    Don't be embarassed to admit going on the Jack the Ripper walking tour, that sounds like a lot of fun. I'm actually a bit of a serial killer buff (morbid curiousity) so I'm pretty familiar with the case, and it was really interesting how Maureen Johnson brought all of that into this book. I think you'll really enjoy this book because you'll be able to picture the actual places while they're described in the book. Definitelly pick it up.

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