Age: Young Adult
Species: Ghosts/ "Shades"/ Human
Interest: Jack the Ripper/ Maureen Johnson/ London
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. (Summary from goodreads.com)
I've been putting off doing this review until Halloween for a specific reason. This is a creepy story. This is the story you read on a dark and stormy night, under the covers, with all the lights in your house on. I am a seasoned reader of "books with killers in them" and while some of them can get my heart beating a little faster, they never actually scare me. The Name of the Star terrified me, to the point where I was shaking and cringing away from the book. Some of you might remember that I used to have a little crush on Jack the Ripper, since he was the more debonair of all the killers I've ever read about. Yeah, that is completely totally and unbelievably gone. I will not be romanticizing him again any time soon.
Unfortunately, there were only three characters I found really interesting, and none of them were living. Rory was certainly a likable person, and I loved her name because of my Gilmore Girls obsession, but she didn't really do it for me as the heroine. The same happened with many of the other characters, I liked them but I wasn't captivated by them. "Jack", Jo and a ghost in the library all held my attention better than anyone else in the novel. There was another issue with The Name of the Star, and that was chunky pacing. It took a very, long time to get to the main part of the story and when it did get there, Rory had so much information forced on her that I began to stop listening to it.
The writing was fantastic. Descriptions of what "Jack" had done to his victims kept me squirming in my seat. I loved all of the descriptions of dreary weather and freezing temperature. Johnson also has an acute talent of making up the best one liners or funniest situations possible. Insults like "bitch weasel" (I mean, really WHO thinks of that? It is spectacular.), bartering music records for term papers written by ghosts and zombie spice girl costumes had me laughing through the terror. The Name of the Star has a perfectly magical blend of horror and hilarity, you're terrified one minute and busting a gut laughing a few minutes later.
In spite of a new found wariness for "Jack", I can't help admiring all of the work and research Johnson put into bringing him to life. Street names, dates, even victims names were carefully put into the book with other detailed information. I loved how the title The Name of the Star actually fit into the novel, and how it was about "Jack". Not many novels actually incorporate their titles, and if they do, it's a passing mention, not a big part of the book, so I enjoyed Johnson doing that.
While the book has certain problems, as mentioned before, overall, The Name of the Star was a fantastic novel that is perfect to read on Halloween. I highly encourage fans of horror, Jack the Ripper or wonderfully creepy London setting to read this book. I'm so looking forward to reading more of the shades of London series from the fantastic Maureen Johnson.
Teaser Line #1: "It was clearly one of those mornings when I was particularly American."
Teaser Line #2: “Fear can't hurt you," she said. "When it washes over you, give it no power. It's a snake with no venom. Remember that. That knowledge can save you.”
Teaser Line #3: "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."