Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Name of the Star ~ Maureen Johnson review

The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1)
Putnam Juvenile
September 29, 2011
372 pages
add on Goodreads/buy on Amazon

When Aurora Devereaux's parents take a job in Bristol, New Orleans teenager Rory decides to attend a London boarding school for her last year of school. Her first day at Wexford, in London's East End is going to be a memorable one for Rory - one with many first: the first in London, the first in a boarding school, etc But it's also going to be a memorable one for many around the world, Londoners, especially, it's the day of the first gruesome crime mimicking Jack the Ripper occurs.

Soon 'Rippermania' has a hold of London - the world, really - and no one is safe, including Rory and her new friends Jazza and Jerome or anyone else at their school located right in the heart of it all. The police have very few clue, either. Until, that is, Rory sees a man one night. A man n one else could see.

Soon, it's not only the police that are interested in what Rory saw that night. A sighting that leaves Rory questioning her own abilities - and maybe even sanity - all while they put her in more danger.

The Name of the Star is different than most of Maureen Johnson's other novels. A bit like Devilish with elements of 13 Little Blue Envelopes mixed in.  (Or maybe a boarding school YA novel with a smidge of Torchwood? Maybe Captain Jack could pop up in a latter book?!)

It's one of the best kinds of books set in boarding schools because readers get the social elements of the setting - the characters living together, eating together, the main character thrown into a situation where they know no one - the fishbowl social setting yet we don't have much classes at all. The academics aren't needed for the plot of The Name of the Star and their absence doesn't detract from anything so not having them really just 'stuck in' was great.

The parts about modern London that were included as well as those about the Jack the Ripper murders of the past really helped the story fell real and truly be 'in' London. Maureen Johnson can really write books that make you want to have a passport and a plane ticket on hand - even when they involve murder.

The way the supernatural played into this book was fantastic. At times it wasn't always clear what was going to be something paranormal and what wasn't. It's great when things aren't obvious right away and unfold for the reader as you read.

This is Shades of London #1 and will leave you waiting for #2.


Look for my review of Alyxandra Harvey's Bleeding Hearts coming soon!

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