The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

NameoftheStarTitle: The Name of the Star

Author: Maureen Johnson

Genre: Ghost/Horror/Mystery/Paranormal

Publisher: Putnam

Pages: 372

Rating: 4/5

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.

I’ve read three of Maureen Johnson’s books, one paranormal and the other two comedic contemporaries. The first one I read a very long time ago and don’t remember much, but I remember the other two more clearly, having read both this year. I thought both of them were funny, oftentimes hilarious, and I loved many of the supporting characters; unfortunately, I didn’t like the main character as much – she was more of background character who watches the interesting lives of her family members. Coming into this book, I was worried that the main character, Rory, would have the same problem. Luckily, I enjoyed this book more than the other two, though I did enjoy the other two (when I ignore the main character, that is). Rory still had some things about her that annoyed me, and there was less of a supporting cast to focus on, but that didn’t make the story any weaker.

I’ve read a little about Jack the Ripper, but I mostly just knew the basics coming in to this book. Not to mention that’s it much different to read about the gruesome attacks rather than the basics on the internet. The mystery was interesting – though the killer himself was kind of obvious upon his first appearance, that didn’t ruin the twists surrounding him at the end. Not to mention the secret organization that Rory becomes involved in. It was a bit of a surprise, considering the synopsis didn’t mention it at all, but I hope the sequel will expand more upon it. It sounds like an interesting group, and the few members in it are just as interesting to match. The incident that led to Rory getting the ‘secret’ special ability that allows her to join this group wasn’t nearly as interesting, though – in fact, it seemed really random at the time and didn’t impress me at all, but since it led to most of the events of the books, I can’t complain too much.

Though this wasn’t a big part of the story, I figure I should mention it, since it’s in the opening blurb – the romance. Sure, it’s not a big part in the synopsis, but it does say this book is full of romance, something I’m not sure I agree with. The romance wasn’t very interesting – it was kind of cute at the beginning, but it seems like it was partially forgotten afterwards, not to mention there were random make outs that seem to be a staple of Johnson’s, at least based on the last two books I read of hers. The romance just wasn’t developed nearly enough for my interest, but there seems to be another relationship that could bloom into something more, a relationship that seems like it could become a bigger aspect of the next story. At least, that’s my hope.

Before I wrap this up, I’m going to mention something that has nothing to do with the book itself, but bugs me anyway – the cover. If you can’t tell, covers are a big aspect of books for me. I judge books by their covers way too often. When I saw this cover, I was unimpressed. It looked like a simple graphic overlay, something that I could do on my free program rather than something a person could be paid for. It just seemed too simple to be the cover of a young adult book by a popular author. Not to mention that the main character’s hair was brown, I believe (it’s been a little while since I read it and her hair color wasn’t very important), and yet the cover girl’s hair is red. It has absolutely nothing to do with the story. But don’t let my silly little pet peeves get to you – the cover, no matter what it looks like and no matter what you might think of it, doesn’t take away from the story within.

Overall, things started a little slow coming into this story, focusing more on Rory’s new life in London, but things picked up once the paranormal aspect of the story became more important. Rory was a better protagonist than the one in the previous series of Johnson’s, and once again there were many interesting supporting characters. I will definitely be checking out the sequel, though, and hopefully it’ll improve on the shortcomings in this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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