Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review: The Name of the Star

The Name of the Star
Author: Maureen Johnson
Series: Shades of London #1
Rating: ✮✮
Book Depository | 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.

The only Maureen Johnson I've read before this one was The Bermudez Triangle, a really well done YA LGBT contemporary novel. So, when I picked up The Name of the Star, I wasn't expecting much, but I didn't expect to be so underwhelmed by it, either. This is clearly a case of a fantastic story idea not being executed as well as it could have been.

I mean, a ghostly Jack the Ripper killing again? And our heroine Rory gets all caught up in it because she can see the ghost? There are so many directions to go with it, but the book spends half the time with Rory describing the minutiae of her boarding school life, her friendships, her budding relationship (sort of), etc. It's actually a really good portrait of a teenage girl being thrust into a new school and culture, but the book isn't only about that. Half way through the plot finally announces itself by inserting one of the most annoying characters I've read in a long time, "Boo". Seriously. Her nickname is Boo.

It's obvious where and why Boo comes in, and as the plot begins rolling along, it doesn't get too much more interesting. I really wish it were, because it's such a good premise, and I really liked Rory despite her being such an unassuming, borderline uninteresting character.

That's mostly what I've taken away from The Name of the Star: it could have been so, so much better.


  1. I've read several reviews for this one lately where readers have been disappointed, so I think I'll probably pass on this one. I love the sound of the premise, and I've always sort of been grotesquely fascinated by Jack the Ripper, but I don't care so much to read about Rory's day to day life when more interesting things could be happening. Thanks for the review Chantaal!

    1. Yeah, I've seen quite a few of those disappointed reviews as well. I really wanted to like it!