Friday, August 26, 2011

The Name of the Star, by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star (Shades of London)The Name of the Star
by Maureen Johnson
New York: Putnam Juvenile
ARC reviewed; publishing date 9/29/11 
Rory Deveaux is spending her senior year at a posh London boarding school in this supernatural series from Maureen Johnson.  If adapting to a new boarding school and country isn’t hard enough, someone is precisely reinacting all the Jack the Ripper murders, down to the date, time, and method, and modern-day London is hooked.  Sneaking out with her roommate to another dorm, Rory becomes the only witness to have seen and talked to the prime suspect, despite not having been alone at the time.  With a romantic prospect and new friendships on the horizon, the last thing Rory needs is to be seeing people that aren’t there.  Is Rory going crazy?  Who is the modern-day Ripper? And more importantly, is he coming for her next?   Fans of Johnson will not be disappointed.  While there is some drinking in this book (legal in the UK), it is filled with great historical details about the original crimes.  More importantly, it serves as a thoughtful look at modern media sensationalism.  This is an imaginative and fun thriller, best suited for high school aged teens. 

Book Talk Hook:  Read the original facts of the case “On the X of September, 18XX, so and so was brutally murdered etc. On the X of October,  ditto, etc. etc.  The most famous unsolved crime ever was committed and the legend of Jack the Ripper was born.  On the X of September, 2011 , so and so was brutally murdered etc.”  Then give a tiny summary of the book.  The facts of the case really do the selling for you.  Methinks you won’t have to do too much convincing, especially for Johnson fans.

Fact: a bloody mary goes
well with this book if you
are a grownass woman.
            Fact: I carted back  20 pounds of ARCs (ok, you got me, checked a bag) from ALA’s 2011 conference in NOLA.  One that I definitely didn’t check?  Name of the Star.  In fact, it was the first of the giant stack that I cracked into.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was feeling a little smug (especially after learning where the heroine is from – NOLA) about my plans to crack it open at the airport with a Bloody Mary in hand.  Because get it?  Bloody Mary?  Jack the Ripper?  Self high five. Totally apropos.  
     Here’s another fact for you:  Maureen Johnson is straight up fun to read, no matter the scenario or premise.  She somehow writes in a way to make you think, but good luck realizing it until later; you’ll be snickering too hard.  This one?  It might be a departure in that it has a supernatural premise (which I will not spoil, because I hate Uncle Jaime spoilers), but Johnson’s trademark wit sparkles in both the dialog and the deets.  The facts about the actual case are a great addition.  This both grounds the story in the real world and obviously, thanks to the horrific nature of the crimes, gives it a creepy, scary factor.  I seriously kept checking over my shoulders while in my basement doing laundry after reading this, despite by brain being all “SITUATION: IMPLAUSIBLE.” Whatevs.  Serial killers are always creepy. 

This is the first book in a series, The Shades of London, and I’m curious as to what will be tackled next!  Bonus points/snaps to MJ for using abandoned subway/train/tube/whatever you call it in your city stops.  Are they not the coolest yet creepiest time capsule places?  I want to go to there!  Preferably in a full body plastic bag  to protect me from mutant underground spiders, clutching three flashlights, and with three burly men, also in possession of many flashlights, to protect me from the mutant tunnel rats and my imagination.  Also, if the legal and completely tame teenage drinking is a deterrent, you may need to get out more.  And/or just watch Skins.  It could be so much worse! My only quibble:  what is with the cover design?  Pleaseohplease say  that the cheese v. scary v. hello, London factor will be reversed in the real version come September.  Because despite being old timey and obviously from London, I’m not a phan of the photoshop rip job (see what I did there, Penguin?).  Irregardless of the dress she wears, you will have a good time if you pick up this lady book!**

**Since writing this in late June and then running out of time to post it before leaving the country for the summer, it appears that Big Ben has been minimized on the cover, and gold curlicues have been added. pleas for a reverse of the cheese v. scary v. hello, London factor were in fact cheese lovers. 

1 comment:

Luxembourg said...

The pace in the story was killing me. At the beginning, I got very intrigued by the concept of the book, then the flow of the events was going slowly for me.
I hated how everything seemed easy to happen or to do in this story.
I hated seeing Rory becoming naïve.
The ending wasn’t good at all. I expected more in it and thought maybe what didn’t please me in the beginning and the middle of the book will do at the end, I was disappointed.
I was disappointed not to find the story horrifying. I was expecting it to scare me to death, unfortunately, it didn’t :(.
Why I went for the audiobook eventually:

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