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Tuesday, October 25, 2011
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
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.
Wow, The Name of the Star was not what I was expecting. This was a really eerie and uncanny story. I don't really know what I was expecting going into this book, but the creepiness of this book- unexplained murders, Rippermania, secret government societies, and some unmentionable paranormal aspects were not it. With that said, I really enjoyed this book. It had elements that I haven't seen in other stories, such as the underlying plot surrounding Jack the Ripper murders in London. It was a superb play on a very controversial and popular event, twisting it into such a cool part of this story.
I really enjoyed reading Rory. A strong main character always makes a book that more enjoyable. Rory is the stand alone American at a London boarding school and it shows. She's progressively learning the ins and outs of living in London and fitting in with her new foreign classmates. Rory cracked me up on several occasions. Her struggles with field hockey were hilarious and I loved all the background stories about her family back home (especially cousin Diane and her angel collection). My favorite thing about Rory though was that she is portrayed as a typical teenage girl. She's got her insecurities, and is nervous about being the new girl, which makes her so relatable to the reader. She really just seemed like an average girl, one who I'd love having as my own roommate!
Rory's relationship with her roommates, Jazza and Boo (nicknames) is also really sweat and endearing. I loved how easy and close Rory and Jazza got. It really made me miss my own roommates from college! I also thought that Rory and Jerome were a very cute couple together, although I would have liked to see more progression between the two. Their realtionship seemed to take a back seat to the paranormal elements of the book and therefore didn't leave as strong of an impact on me. Jerome especially didn't really peak my interest throughout the story and it was only when he was with Rory that I really remembered him being a character.
What really sold this story for me was the Rippermania. The hype around the mysterious murders and trying to figure out how the "copy cat" was going around unseen was such an adrenaline rush. I loved the build up to each murder and the hidden messages that the Ripper left behind. I really felt like I was trying to solve the clues along with Rory. Then, when we meet up with Stephen and Callum, and learn what Rory truly is, woa, did the story start getting intense! I loved the ending, which I won't give away, but be prepared for such a rush! Again, we're left with a sort of cliffhanger, but I'm very happy to see that there will be more in this Shades of London series.