Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tori's Review: The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1) by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Series: Shades of London #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery
Rating: ★★★★
Pages: 372
Published by Putnam Juvenile on September 29, 2011
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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.
The plot (no spoilers): Rory gets to London. Rory is chastised for being a silly American. Rory meets a cute English boy. Rory is in London when Jack the Ripper style murders go on. Rory meets a ghost. Rory meets some other people that can see ghosts. Rory makes friends. Rory is hunted.

Despite the fact that the plot seems very simplistic...okay, well the plot in The Name of the Star is very simplistic. But it's a good simplistic! Johnson's writing is very short and to the point, and I like that about it. It's no nonsense writing. There's only one thing I'd complain about when it comes to Johnson's writing, and I had the same issue with Libba Bray's writing in The Diviners, and that's the fact that yes, Johnson did research on London, and yes Johnson made it seem real (wait. What would I know? I've never been to London. Oh, well), but no Johnson did not have to show me every. single. thing that she learned.

It wasn't as bad as Bray though, who just had to tell me all about the 1920's when I could've cared less. But still. In the beginning, I had a little History Class Taught by Rory about the school's history. Yeah, I really didn't care. I kind of glazed in that part. But after you get past the first hundred pages (for me, it's really easy to get past the first 100 pages in most books. Notice how I say most books and not all books), the plot really picks up and the book takes off.

I really liked the characters in this book. They might not have seemed really real to me and they might not have stood out among other characters I've read before, but I still really liked them. Stephen, particularly. (Except when he told Rory his life story. I like story time and all, but I hate hearing people's back stories. I know that they're necessary though.) Anyway, I wasn't too fond of Jerome though. I know that he was the love interest, but I really just didn't like him all that much. He seemed a bit flaky at times and suspicious as well as reckless.

(Like, no. You do not go to the bar where a body was just found and a murderer is still out there. You just...don't.)

But other than Jerome, I was fine with the other characters. Even Charlotte. She reminded me of people that I know and (would) love (to castrate and/or stab repeatedly). Boo was meh. She was fun and all, but I feel like she was only added to spice up the book a bit, which is fine, but still.

As far as murder/mystery goes, I really don't think this was a mystery. I consider a mystery to be like Bones (the TV program) or CSI or other crime shows like that. Or even Find Me by Romily Bernard where even though the killer may or may not be blatantly obvious, you still have to guess as to who the killer is. In this book, it's just kind of thrown at you. I doubt the author chose the genres, but if you want a whodunit mystery, this isn't it. It's still worth the read though! Creepy enough in some parts, especially when explaining Jack the Ripper's fourth (or was it fifth?) murder.

Overall, I really liked this book and its plot. It was really interesting to me. It took me a while to get around to reading it (I bought it in September '13), but that's fine. I'm glad I did decide to pick it up randomly. I really enjoyed it. I'll be buying the next book really soon.

On a final note, I'm so glad that book three comes out this year. I heard the cliffhanger at the end of book two is killer.

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  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this book. :) I really like the series so far, despite the simplistic plot - it was definitely an easy and fun read that brought me out of a reading slump. I can't wait for The Shadow Cabinet! While I wasn't upset at the ending of The Madness Underneath as others were, I definitely wasn't expecting it, so I can't wait to see how book three starts! Thanks for the review, Tori. I really enjoyed it. :)

    1. Thanks for the comment! I haven't read The Madness Underneath yet, and I'm glad to hear that the end didn't upset you as much. I've heard that some people really didn't like the ending, so I was afraid to get it. c: I'll definitely try to read it asap!


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