Readers: February 27th: Apologies for the scattered posting that's about to come during the next week or so. University has just started and I have a lot of work to do to get on top of things (and ahead!). Thanks for your patience, as always.

Publishers: I promise I'm not abandoning the lovely review copies you've sent!
I'm getting through them and the reviews will come eventually!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Review: The Name of the Star

Title: The Name of the Star
Author: Maureen Johnson
Series: Shades of London #1
Publisher: Harper Collins Australia
Published: September 29th 2011
Source: Harper Collins Australia for review

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?

The Name of the Star absolutely blew me away. While very excited to read this, I was slightly worried about what was in store for me because I could not imagine this murder mystery as a young adult novel. I was shocked and elated to find that this novel was fun, and that if you took out the murders it would still be an amazing story about discovering yourself in a foreign place, making new friends and more! The characters are so realistic and developed really well, and I'm in total awe of how completely I was immersed in the atmosphere. London isn't two-dimensional but rich in history with beautiful sights, and Johnson captures all of this in her writing, making the novel an absolute joy to read.

I've always been a fan of Jack the Ripper. While gruesome, the mystery and thrill of the murders are intriguing and Johnson does a fantastic job of describing everything to readers who may be new to the subject. Whether it be from a knowledgeable student, a first hand account of the murder or a news report, each murder and the legends surrounding the Ripper are explained. What we end up with is a very rich and realistic story, which fully succeeds in creating a frightening and uneasy mood when necessary.

Rory Deveaux is a student from New Orleans who has come to study at a London boarding school. Don't you just love boarding schools? Every single boarding school story, I get excited for. I love how students are able to live together and be independent (but in London, no less!). Rory is a brilliant protagonist. She's straight-forward, very determined, not cowardly and is willing to protect her friends at all costs. Want another bonus? Along with Rory's witty remarks, her Americanisms amongst her native students are hilarious. I'm telling you guys - this is good young adult fiction. Don't be scared!

There are so many characters in The Name of the Star, each with a significant role, and I adored them all. Jazza is Rory's roommate and the two get along very well, with their similar likes, dislikes and habits. Both are close and loyal to the other until the arrival of a late student, Boo, shakes up their world with her secrets. Oh how I loved the mystery in this novel. There are dozens of twists and shocking revelations that will put the story in a new light, each and every time. Scattered throughout the novel are short scenes of outside characters, told in third person point of view. These characters are closely related to the Ripper murders and will usually provide us with a new perspective or piece of information. Basically, they scare us. Who knows what these characters will reveal?

With the shocking discovery on the final page, I am very glad that this is a series. I can't bear to leave these characters or the exciting world which Johnson has created. A very interesting storyline awaits us in the second book! A truly amazing book - be sure to get your hands on it soon!
Are you a fan of Jack the Ripper? Who's read 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen? Thoughts?

Find Maureen on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, her website and blog.
Buy The Name of the Star from Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes & Noble and Borders.

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