Author: Maureen Johnson
Series: Shades of London # 1
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Paranormal, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Released: 29 September 2011
Summary via goodreads.com : The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London, it's the start of a new life at a 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.
My Review: The Name of the Star was my first experience with Maureen Johnson's books. I had heard of Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes but had never gotten around to reading it, however when I saw this and noticed that it played heavily on my obsession with London and Ripper-lore I knew that it would quickly climb the list of books I wanted to read. There were many things that I enjoyed about this novel. The East London setting was written with such attention to detail that I felt like I was with Rory experiencing London for the first time. What I was most surprised about what the hilarity of Johnson's writing style. This is one of few books that made me laugh out loud!
Rory is such a fun and insightful heroine, full of Southern wit and charm, which I will admit was hard for me to imagine in the beginning. Rory grows on you, there are so many things that I highlighted in this book, little sentences that she says like "children are stupid" and "there's a difference between being a guy and being an idiot". Rory was straightforward, and very typical of what I imagine a young adult from the South to act like. She was a little firecracker that added a lot of fun to the plot.
Rory wasn't the only character that I loved. Callum, Stephen, and Boo were also fun, and fantastic balances to Rory. They brought a more adult tone and made navigating Rory's "affliction" easier on the audience. They also added a lighter tone to the impending darkness that shadowed this book. Boo was such a fun and bright character, with an incredible accent to boot and Stephen and Callum were both so attractive and cute (look for the scene when Stephen lends Rory is sweats! Swoon!); although it isn't stated I am definitely sensing a love-square to come out of this series (Rory has a somewhat drippy boyfriend/make out buddy throughout the novel that doesn't make any type of impression.) The villain was also someone I could get behind, they had a serious motive (although selfish - which most murders are) and the scenes that she/he appeared in were definitely terrifying. I don't read a lot of scary paranormal ghost story books, which means I scare relatively easily. The Name of the Star definitely got my blood pumping.
The only thing that I had a hard time with was Rory's parents. Supposedly they are PhD's on sabbatical. I understand that, but if my daughter were living in a boarding school where a murder had taken place on the front lawn I wouldn't be hesitating to ship her back up to wherever I was. Although I understand that it would have messed up the plot, and I am glad that Johnson did enact the seemingly standard 'un-caring parents' that run rampant in YA novels, I do wish that Rory's had taken a little bit more of an interest in her life. Other than that the plot was tight, it moved effortlessly along with the help of the characters, all of whom make smart decisions. One of my biggest peeves with YA literature is when you seem to have one character that insists on always 'taking one for the team' however, this team of Shades definitely work together. The history aspect of the novel was also wonderful, I hadn't actively studied Ripper-lore beyond History Channel and PBS Halloween specials, but this definitely spurred along my interest in it. Johnson did her homework! I love when authors do their homework! I am very excited for this trilogy to develop. The second book (supposedly titled The Madness Underneath) Is set to come out in 2013! This is definitely recommended for a weekend read that will keep you laughing and get you thinking.