Monday, February 13, 2012

Book Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star
Maureen Johnson
Published: 2011
YA Contemporary/Paranormal

“Keep calm and carry on.

Also, stay in and hide because the Ripper is coming.”

Can I tell you how much I love Maureen Johnson? This is one of those books I was immediately sucked into. It balances suspense and historical details, and includes the author's typically awesome characters with unexpectedly quirky backstories. 

Rory moves with her family to England to attend boarding school; her parents are nearby in another town as university professors (but to Englanders, two hours isn't nearby, it's halfway across the country!). Rory lands in London just as a rash of Jack the Ripper imposter murders occur. The Ripper, who was never identified, infamously murdered 6 women over the course of a few months in 1888. Naturally, Rory's school is on intermittent lockdown as the police and frenzied media follow up on each murder, which happen exactly according to the old Ripper legend. Meanwhile, Rory sees a strange man on the school campus immediately after one of the murders. She's seeing a lot of strange things, and she wonders if it's stress or something more.

It's the little details: snippets of background on Rory's kooky extended family back in Louisana foreshadow her strange experiences. Her friendship with her adorable roommate Jazza feels genuine, and neither of them make excuses for being smart and studying hard - they aren't boy crazy. There's an underworld of investigators looking into the Ripper murders for completely different reasons than the police - and I'll leave it at that to keep this spoiler-free!

The Name of the Star is the first book in The Shades of London trilogy. The ending has a great little twist and I'm looking forward to the next book.


  1. I really enjoyed this one too. I felt like the atmosphere really made this book and I'm looking forward to more of it :-)

  2. I like the sound of this one. Is it set in present day? I don't know why, but the first quote made me think of wartime.

  3. @Sarah: it's set in present day but has a lot of historical references b/c of the Ripper case.

  4. So glad you liked this one! It's been on my to-read list for ages. I love books that blend present-day and historical references.

  5. I looooved this book. Can't wait for the next one! :)


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