Day 44: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Summary 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.
Part fantasy, part thriller, but with the feel of a contemporary The Name of the Star was the perfect blend of all of those genres done in Maureen Johnson’s unique writing style. I didn’t have the foggiest clue what to expect from TNotS, my first experience with Johnson’s work, but from following her on twitter and her interactions with John Green and nerdfighteria, I had high hopes. Luckily for me they were met and then some.
Rory is a very relatable main character, with a quirky sense of humor, a predictably adequate-but-not-stellar level of smarts so that she struggles just enough to need help but not enough to be considered a dunce. She has the usual struggles adjusting to living in London and in a new school. Johnson’s style, something that despite my best efforts I am completely failing at describing, brings Rory, and the rest of the characters to life and keeps them from being stale school-aged-teen cardboard cutouts. Jazza, the best friend, is a very likable character. Though she is very focused on her schoolwork she is goofy, especially when a little tipsy, and brings out the best in everyone, especially Rory. Also her love of books is something that always makes a character more endearing to me regardless of whether that has any bearing on the character’s actual personality, silly but true.
The relationship that you could see coming from the beginning of the book like there were strobe lights and neon signs all around it was the only thing I didn’t love about TNotS. It was understated in its importance/impact on the book, which is fine, except that it almost felt like it was just in there because there needed to be some sort of romance/extra-special-bond in the book. That coupled with it being painfully obvious who was pairing up made this the only major disappointment for me. I don’t know if I just want it to have been better or scrapped, oh well.
In contrast I felt the plot was very well done. The fact that we did know the dates of the major events before hand did remove some surprise factor, but it added to the quality of the build up and it was a trade off I was happy to make. The mix of thriller style/murder mystery and fantasy works really well here, especially after the initial encounter of Rory and the main suspect. I couldn’t put the book down and the ending really drove it home in perfect dramatic fashion while opening up a tantalizing cliffhanger for The Madness Underneath, which I can’t wait to read now.
I thought the book was great and I’ll certainly be getting the other books by Johnson as soon as I can so I will be able to devour those as well. As always thanks for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 45!