January 20, 2012

Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1) by Maureen Johnson
Format: Hardcover, 372 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery
Published September 29, 2011 by Putnam Juvenile
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
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.
This was one of those books that I really wanted to love, but didn't.  It was a good book, and I definitely enjoyed it, but I wish it had a bit more... oomph.  Something that could have changed it from an okay-good-read book to an OMGTHISISSOAMAZINGILOVEITTODEATH book.

I liked the whole Jack the Ripper mystery that went on throughout the book, it was one of the main reasons why I wanted to read the book in the first place.  I'm one of those geeks who can spend hours watching the History Channel so I really appreciated all the research that went into this book.  And it was a good mystery book that kept me second guessing at the clues the 'Ripper' would leave behind and what not.

What I enjoyed most from this book is the writing voice.  This was my first Maureen Johnson book (and definitely not my last) but I loved how much the characters and writing had Maureen's quirkiness that I've come to love from stalking following her on twitter.  Maureen is very clever and funny online, and her book is no different.  I kind of want to say it's eccentric, but it's mostly unique and very original.

The Name of the Star has a fantastic cast of characters who are all quirky and fun to read.  Although they made me laugh and I generally liked them as characters, I kind of wish they had more depth... or that we got to know them better... This was a mainly plot driven book in my opinion, which is great, but really love getting to know the characters in a book... and I felt like it didn't really happen with this book.

Overall, I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped, but I think this book is worth a read if you are a fan of Maureen's other books or Jack the Ripper-esque mysteries.  And because it ends on a little cliffhanger, I'm curious enough to read the next book in this series.  :)


  1. Great review, it sounds like a good book!


  2. Have this on my e-reader and was wondering how it was like. Really how the writing style reflects Maureen in general. The Ripper legend has always been my favorite so can't wait to see it while reading.
    Thanks for the review.

  3. Aw, sorry you didn't enjoy this more. I read it around Halloween and really liked it. I'm a big fan of Maureen Johnson too, and you are so right, she has such a unique voice. I'm thinking this one is really just laying the groundwork for the sequel(s) so maybe the character development you found lacking won't be such an issue in the next book. Enjoyed your review:)

  4. Maureen Johnson has fun with her writing, but knows when to get serious. I absolutely loved that she wasn't afraid to write about the Ripper murders and even recreate them - in a way - but still leave out the gory details. Very tastefully done and I appreciate that.believe me I do! Johnson also knows how to keep a reader on the edge of their seats. I was about the pull my own hair out trying to figure out what the heck was going on!!