Sunday, October 2, 2011

Johnson, Maureen: The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1)

September 29, 2011
Penguin Young Readers Group
YA Mystery/Supernatural, 372 pages
Acquired and read: Courtesy of my most beloved public library (I was first on the waiting list - oh yeah!); read within approximately six hours

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.
The Name of the Star is what you fear.

Except for the whole arriving in London just for the killing spree of the century, Rory's pretty much living the life any Anglophile would die for - living it up in a posh boarding school, a cool roommate, and the possibility of having her head chopped off by the Ripper himself.

Ahem. Yes, I'd take it all except for the last part.

Though I follow her religiously on Twitter, this was the first of Maureen Johnson's books I actually finished (started Suite Scarlett back in senior year, but you know how well that went) and I was absolutely hooked from start to finish. There was a bit of a lag during the whole information dumps about boarding school, but then again I know absolutely nothing about the British education system, so let's take that as a learning experience, shall we?

In any case, there's loads of cool accented words and slang (personal favorite: "I survived November 9th and All I Got was This Bloody T-Shirt"...I'm a future English major, I've got to love irony), rides on the Tube and, of course, Ripper-mania to keep the action going right up to the last page. And even after that, I went through the acknowledgments, admired the nice author photo on the flap, and drummed my fingers against the cover a few times waiting for a sequel to magically appear in my hands.

It didn't. Ah, well, you can't blame a girl for trying.

What I found particularly awesome about the book was how it followed along with the real Ripper's crimes...and believe me, I would know. (To make a long story short, some psychology classes seem to enjoy freaking their students out for life about venturing out at night...oh, and being a female in any major city? Watch out for your neck, my pretty.)

To sum it up for whoever didn't bother to read everything up there: 

Anglophile + interested about serial killers (just as long as you're not one) = have a go with The Name of the Star. You won't regret it.

Warnings (because I can't close off this review without 'em): Death. Gory, historically accurate, heartbreaking deaths. Please consult a physician if you have any conditions that might leave you with your hands over your heart and a book conspicuously falling to the floor. The Name of the Star is a book about a murderer, not a murderer itself. 

Also, there's quite a bit of macking, a little bit of profanity, and some other innuendo. This is a YA book, you know.

Final verdict: Yes. (I'm sparing you any more of my terrible British imitations. Just...yes.)


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