Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Book: The Name of the Star
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release date: September 29, 2011
Source: ARC received from Around the World Tours

Summary: (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.

First impressions: Rory is an incredibly friendly and authentic narrator. Her voice really drew me in, though I had a hard time picturing her with a Louisiana accent.

Lasting impressions: Jack the Ripper mystique aside, this is a good old fashioned paranormal murder mystery, and I loved every minute of it.

Conflicting impressions: As much as I liked Rory, she seemed a bit generic at times. I’m not sure I could tell you one unique quality about her, other than that she comes from an eccentric community in Louisiana.

Overall impressions: Oh good Lord did I gobble this one up! No, not just gobbled – devoured. This was no simple “Hmmm, wonder what’s going to happen next?” It was “OHMIGOD I WILL KILL YOU IF YOU MAKE ME STOP READING THIS.” I would count down the minutes on my commute and lunch hour, racing to flip pages as quickly as possible so I could find an appropriate stopping place.

There was no appropriate stopping place. It was too good to stop reading. Ever.

The summary pretty much says it all – girl moves to London for boarding school in the midst of a Jack the Ripper copycat spree and winds up entangled in the investigation while discovering an interesting paranormal element. So we have lots of things I love: 1) boarding school setting; 2)murder investigation; 3) Jack the Ripper history/trivia; and 4) paranormal activity. I fainted from swooning the moment I first read this book’s jacket copy.

Believe me when I tell you it delivers in pretty much all of these categories. Rory’s school is typical – grand buildings, quirky roommates, cute boys, skirted uniforms, and lots of studying. The murder mystery unfolds at a nice pace, with clues that stuck out upon reveal but weren’t too intrusive when introduced (these are the best kind, in my humble opinion). There was lots of good Jack the Ripper information shared as the investigation went on, and when Rory discovers her new powers play a distinct role in catching the killer, I was fully on board.

Whatever unique qualities Rory may have been lacking were more than made up for with Maureen Johnson’s breezy writing and distinct side characters. Everyone and everything seemed so natural and real that I bought in to the world completely without it ever seeming gimmicky. The tension and pacing worked seamlessly to pull me along through the plot, and around every corner there seemed to be something new and interesting to keep my full attention. Add in the Ripper timeframe counting down the days to the next kill and I was hooked.

This book requires a strong will to put it down, but enough entertainment to make you want to prolong the agony. Balancing fun, light characters with dark, terrifying events, this book is pure magic. You need to run out and get your hands on this one.


Rating: 5/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

Amazingly beautiful and painstakingly crafted signature courtesy of Small Review

10 thoughts on “Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

  1. Drat, so I should have requested this when I had the chance, huh? Guess I know what I'll be adding to the inter-library loan list 🙂

  2. Why can't it be September 29 already?! Thanks for the thoughtful review, it's nice to know I was right to put this on my wishlist. 😀

  3. Agh! Logan! What are you doing to me. I wasn't interested in reading this one because I can't stand the cover. It looks like a bad PS to me. But now I really want to check it out. It really says a lot if you still gave the book a 5 star rating even though Rory didn't seem particularly unique in character. Must of been because of those cute boys in uniform, eh?!

  4. "OHMIGOD I WILL KILL YOU IF YOU MAKE ME STOP READING THIS."you know a book has to be awesome when it brings out your homicidal side! Can't wait to read this one – a shame about Rory's character, but the writing must be INSANE for you to rate it so high despite that – thanks for the fab review!

  5. This review made me laugh out loud. Literally. AND I was in class. Ha! Fab review. I'll have to add it to my wishlist. I had no idea it was that good.

  6. Great Review of this one! I read it too and loved every minute of it! I was scared sometimes in my house alone even though I live in the U.S. far away from any of the Ripper sites. Still, some parts were creepy. I thought this was an awesome thriller and you wrote a great review. Now I have to right one equally as good!Heather

  7. Wow. Awesome. It's been awhile since I read a book like how you describe this, one where it's impossible to find a good stopping place because you just want to keep going and going but at the same time, don't want it to end. Probably not since Mockingjay came out. Can't wait to read this!

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