Book Review of The Name of the Star By by Maureen Johnson

Posted February 15, 2013 by Kara in Uncategorized / 14 Comments

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: September 29th, 2011
Pages: 372
Genre: Young Adult – Historical, Paranormal
Source: I own the book.

Description 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.

Review: This book seemed to be a huge hit when I posted it in one of my hauls a few weeks back.   I decided to move it to the front when I was looking for something that might catch my attention.  After reading The Name of the Star, I feel completely torn on the entire book.  One one hand, I felt that some of the story line was a bit lacking and spread a bit too thin for my taste. During certain parts of the book, the story seemed to drag, and in other parts, we get a sketchy outline of events.  However, I did enjoy the characters and the concepts held fast to my deteriorating attention span. Basically, the author’s strong characterization and creativity saved the book and even snagged the next book in the series a seat on my wish list.

It seemed that this book was written in two different chunks.  The second part didn’t seem to want to play with the first part of the book.  I did enjoy the immersion into English culture (I am intrigued about the opinion from someone from England about the entire school life portion) and I find the education system of another region a huge hook for my own personal taste.  I wish the concept and the beginning had meshed a bit more.  By the time we are introduced to the actual plot of the book, the reader is invested in the characters that play a major role for the first half of the book.  The second part is very ingenious, but also has a certain uncomfortable disjointed feeling.

On the flip side, I really did find the characters in the book very realistic and quite pleasant.  Rory is very agreeable and came across as humorous.  Her Southern USA breeding and attitude won some points from me as well.  Her line about the South’s obsession with Iced tea was spot on.  I am not an iced tea drinker myself, but it is a staple of Southern living.  Next, this entire quote was a sure way to make her dear to my heart:

“I decided to deflect her attitude by giving a long, Southern answer.  I come from people who know how to draw things out.  Annoy a Southerner, and we will drain away the moments of your life with our slow, detailed replies until you are nothing but a husk of your former self and that much closer to death.”

Louisiana, Rory’s home state, is Texas’ next door neighbor, and I can say for a fact that we can kill a person with kindness down here.  We’ll become overly pleasant and sugar coat things and make life a sweet living hell for those who cross us.  And retain our smile the entire time.  Rory was a nice blend of tough and vulnerable. She was a perfect blend of facets that gave rise to a person that was relatable and likable. In the past, I tore into characters that were self-sacrificing and placed themselves in danger “for the greater good.”  Rory, during a certain climatic scene of the book, volunteered herself for a dangerous mission in the name of safety of the population.  I believe Rory made it work for the audience because she held onto her notion of hope.  She didn’t go into a dangerous situation empty handed, she cooked up a plan and clung to the notion that she was going to be able to get out.  And if she didn’t, then she kept a back-up of people who could, hopefully, fulfill the mission. Take note, writers: If you want to make your MC consider sacrifice,  do it for the sake of hope, not drama.

 Rory’s roommate Jazza and her daydream-worthy relationship with Rory created the perfect inviting atmosphere for the whole New Girl Starts At New School trope.  A widely used element, but always welcomed when the execution gives it the proper attention.  The whole range of characters all seemed to be spot on and perfect, even to the point that some of the antagonist-type individuals didn’t seem to have enough to cause someone to dislike them.  Charlotte, the overbearing head student, never came across as unlikable to me. She could be a bit rude, but I never found her as horrible as the other people in the book.  And for crying out loud, she cos-played a Dr. Who character at a party.  How could someone dislike a person who brought in one of the most well-loved things to ever come out of Britain?

I also wanted to mention my favorite character of the book, Stephen.  I believe that the series is ramping up a possible romance between the two, and I enjoy how the author is leaving that door open to possibilities  instead of pushing Rory and Stephen together from the get go,  If there is a romance, then Johnson believes that the relationship should bloom over time.  And that, right there, is how romance should be done.  Let it bloom and let readers hope and wonder.  That single fact right there is what made me decide to add the next book to my wish list.  Stephen, to me, is the kind of guy I just go crazy over in any situation: the slow to warm up serious type.  The kind that seem like a completely disinterested and hands-off type until you get to know them.  I like the kind of male character that makes me work for it.  I love a challenge.  I love a guy that  makes me try for his affection.  That is my secret guy type that just drives me wild.

The Name of the Star, overall, is a fun and quick read. Some of the pitfalls of the writing, however, left me with an uneasy feeling, but the novel casting kept me coming back for more. If you love the culture of London and awesome characters, then I would say that this is a book for you.

3/5 Dragons
Buy The Name of the Star from Amazon for the Kindle or in physical form.

14 responses to “Book Review of The Name of the Star By by Maureen Johnson

  1. I really enjoyed this one but omg it’s been so long I barely remember anything at all–only the very basic premise. I did remember feeling like it was long though but I don’t think it lasted long. I also remember that I found the motive for the killing ridiculous–I’m fuzzy on the details but they weren’t after him so he had no reason to think he was a target. Anyhow, I don’t remember Stephen. Eep. I have to reread this before going into the sequel!

    Great review, Lyn!

    • Hi Giselle!!

      I did enjoy it, I just felt that it could have been so much more. I think the sequel pops out this month, or next month. I can’t remember.

      Thank you for stopping in!

  2. Jack the Ripper will forever be one of my most fascinated serial killers (yes, I have a morbid fascination with serial killers). But because of that and mixed reviews, I was a little skeptical of this book. Perhaps I should really give this a try. After all, I do love London and awesome characters!


    • The Ripper has such a rich backstory (the actual killer). If you enjoy Rippermania, then you might want to give this one a shot. It isn’t bad, and it did keep my interest. I wish we had half ratings – I would have said it was a 3 and a 1/2 rating.

  3. Hmm…I’m not sure if I’d like this one after all. I’ve heard so much about it, so I feel almost obligated to give it a shot, but I’ll keep in mind the flaws you mentioned. Thanks for such a helpful review, Lyn! 🙂

  4. Amy

    I liked this book, but for some reason I never reviewed it. I am fascinated with the whole Jack the Ripper thing so this book was a must read for me. I loved the interesting take on it. I definitely want to read the next one. Great review!

    • Oh! I hope you link me to your review, if you do read the sequel! I’m very curious about the whole thing, and if they will keep their Ripper-themed storyline going.

  5. I’m glad you liked this, Lyn! I feel like most of the reviews have been pretty all over the place, and I have no idea what to think. Rory’s character does sound like one I’d enjoy, and even if the plot is founded upon a few tropes I don’t enjoy (new girl at school, etc.), this still sounds promising.

  6. I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews for this one, but have always been intrigued by the whole Jack-the-Ripper catch. Good to know the MC isn’t one of those annoying or stupid heroines, though.. It’s convinced me to give it a try at least. Thanks for the review!

  7. I love the writing and voice so much in this book. The second one, unfortunately, has some plot issues (and I can’t imagine what you’re going to think of the end) but I still really liked it and crave the third.

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