Saturday, February 25, 2012

Book Review: "The Name of the Star" by Maureen Johnson

The Scoop: (Goodreads)

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 Take:

I didn't know much about this book when I picked it up from the library, but I thought the premise sounded interesting. I also love New Orleans and London, so bring it on!!

One day, day.
So, our heroine, Rory, has to transfer from a small Louisiana town to a London prep school because her parents have a new job opportunity there. I feel like this has been a recurring setup in the books I've read lately (See: New Girl, The Twisted Thread, The Vampire Academy and Hex Hall series). I guess I get the need for it: Prep school = No parents and limited authority figures, Being new = Easy exposition, Controlled secluded environment = Almost unlimited world building. And I have to say I liked every one of those books, so I guess I am a fool for a good private prep school tale. this little tale right here.

So, Rory shows up right when a mysterious Jack the Ripper copycat (or is he...) starts to recreate the heinous murders the Ripper became famous for in the late 1800's. Rory has to deal with the typical new-girl-at-a-boarding-school drama: mean girl, new roommate, tough class schedule, new sports and hot boys. This time though, the twist is she is smack dab in the middle of an ongoing murder mystery.

Spoooooky....He may be completely harmless. Just an old-fashioned Englishman taking a stroll. But to me, he's Ripper all the way! Run!!
 Different secrets and twists present themselves over the course of the novel, many of which I didn't see coming and some of which I did. I really liked Rory and the rest of the characters. I loved the detail of Johnson's Ripper research and the London setting.

With The Name of the Star, Johnson has had created a well-crafted tale that will keep you turning the pages non-stop!

Final Verdict:


  1. Sounds interesting. I hear ya about the private island academies - but it seems you have to take the parents out somehow, I mean, would you get your kids get in the messes our book heros do? :). It's hard to name protagonists that actually live with functioning parents.

  2. Excellent point, Annie! It's almost like they have to get the parents out of they way so they can get on with the story, but I really like it when an YA author is clever enough to figure out how to keep them in.

  3. Thanks Steph. I can't think of an example from fantasy/adventure-type YA off the top of my head where the parents are kept in but done nicely - can you point me in the direction of some? The only instance I can remember where the protagonist actually lives with functioning parents is Wings by Aprilynne Pike, which was a good book, but Laurel keeps too many secrets from her parents for a previously homeschooled student and it felt unrealistic.



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