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Shades of London #1

The Name of the Star

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Thrilling ghost-hunting teen mystery as modern-day London is plagued by a sudden outbreak of brutal murders that mimic the horrific crimes of Jack the Ripper.

Sixteen-year-old American girl Rory has just arrived at boarding school in London when a Jack the Ripper copycat-killer begins terrorising the city. All the hallmarks of his infamous murders are frighteningly present, but there are few clues to the killer’s identity.

“Rippermania” grabs hold of modern-day London, and the police are stumped with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. In an unknown city with few friends to turn to, Rory makes a chilling discovery…

Could the copycat murderer really be Jack the Ripper back from the grave?

374 pages, Paperback

First published September 29, 2011

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Maureen Johnson

61 books14.1k followers

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5 stars
15,893 (30%)
4 stars
19,982 (38%)
3 stars
11,410 (22%)
2 stars
3,135 (6%)
1 star
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,343 reviews
Profile Image for Sasha Alsberg.
Author 11 books67k followers
November 23, 2016
Hilarious, fun and mysterious read that I recommend everyone read!
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,379 reviews11.7k followers
June 20, 2011
As seen on The Readventurer

The Name of the Star is a novel with a great premise but bogged down by a very mediocre writing.

American teen Aurora (Rory) Deveaux is spending her senior year in London. Her parents work in nearby Bristol and Rory is all set to live and study at a boarding school. On the day of her arrival to London she learns that there is a brutal murderer on the loose. This murderer appears to be mimicking Jack the Ripper - his first victim was sliced and diced in exactly the same manner as the Ripper's in 1888. More murders happen in the neighborhood of Rory's school, and one day she crosses paths with the killer. The strange thing is, she seems to be the only person able to see him. Rory soon discovers that she possesses an ability to see ghosts and is eager to assist the ghost police of London in its search for the serial killer.

Jack the Ripper's case is a truly fascinating and gruesome one. Johnson does a respectable job incorporating the details of the crimes in her story without shying away from the gore - cut-off noses, bowels and heads - it is all here!

What is not so great is Johnson's writing. The Name of the Star is the author's 9th book (I think), but it often read like a debut. It is full of mistakes that an experienced writer should not be making any more.

Boring, vanilla characters (all of them, except the villain, are like that BTW) and far too long and indulgent HP-fanfic-like boarding school minutiae aside, I think every YA author should know by now that creating a mean girl as a heroine's arch-nemesis is overdone. In this book I could never figure out why this certain girl (head girl - I am sure you remember those from Harry Potter series) was hated so much. She never does anything bad, except she is quite determined to be accepted into Oxford and is very proactive and school-oriented. What is wrong with that? Can we stop bashing overachievers already?

Then there are absent parents. Murders are happening all around the boarding school (one in its yard!), but the main character's supposedly caring parents don't bat an eye and do not bother to withdraw Rory from school.

Or when Rory reports to the police about possibly seeing the murderer, they let her out without asking her not disclose this information to anyone and she goes out and right away blabs it out to the media.

And my main pet peeve is that the villain, if you think of it, does not really have a reason to murder all these people.

All these things in themselves are not bad enough to make the reading experience unbearable or reprehensible. But why weren't these laps in logic corrected? Or am I nitpicking? Maybe I should just stop reading kids' books?

On the bright side, although The Name of the Star is the first book in a trilogy, I have to compliment the author on the ending. Although the last page is slightly cliff-hangery, the book can easily be read as a stand-alone. The case is closed, the characters are in a good place. It is what you'd call a respectful cliff-hanger. I will not be coming back for more of Maureen Johnson's books, so it was nice to have a closure.
Profile Image for Historical Fiction.
919 reviews566 followers
January 8, 2012
Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

The only thought in my head for much of the reading was that of Alexis Bledel as Rory Gilmore. It doesn’t do much credit to a story when the reader is perpetually distracted by a pop culture reference. You don’t see Heathcliff or Rochester being thrown around the literary world for a reason. The goal is to hook your reader, not set them in mind of other amusements. Perhaps I am too judgmental but I feel this was an exceeding poor choice on Johnson’s part especially since we are talking about her protagonist. Chapter one is bad place to identify your first red flag.

I also found Johnson’s assumptions presumptuous especially as she is an American. For example, the central character is greeted at what I assume to be Heathrow by Mr. Franks who informs her that “Some nutter’s gone and pulled a Jack the Ripper.” She barely even registers the name and doesn’t attempt to understand the reference. Maybe I am mistaken but I was under the impression that the name Jack the Ripper is what sold this book. Okay, Rory is American but we aren’t completely incompetent. She may not know the details of the case but the name would certainly ring a bell. I was similarly irked by Johnson’s need to explain the term “prefect.” Again, I know we are largely considered uncultured, ignorant and arrogant but give us a little credit. Harry Potter mania wasn’t limited to jolly ol’ England mate. To be fair I did appreciate the explanations of Bonfire Night and the local perception of pubs and alcohol in general but I would have been happier if I didn’t feel the author was insulting the general intelligence of teenage America.

Thoroughly annoyed is not a good way to begin the third chapter of any book and things don’t get much better. The writing is mediocre but the pacing is the nail in the coffin. The story doesn’t take off until the last hundred pages but getting there like slogging up a mountain in the rain. Irrelevant anecdotes about Rory’s family, Wexford’s daily menus and occasional episodes of awkward snogging leave little room for character or plot development. Rory doesn’t go after the killer until she realizes she is a target but she also doesn’t have any genuine interest in what is going on around her. No, our insipid heroine is only relieved the threat and subsequent media circus have resulted in cancelled hockey sessions with Charlotte and Call Me Claudia. Why should a reader be interested in a story the primary character is a) not interested in and b) largely uninvolved with?

Before I close I invite those of you own a copy of the book to turn it over. There, on the back cover you will find glowing remarks from Cassandra Clare, Ally Carter and Holly Black. Now again, I beg your indulgence and ask you to open the book to the Acknowledgments section. Here you will find the following statement:

“To my friends, Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Robin Wasserman, Holly Black, Cassie Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, John Green, Libba Bray, Ally Carter… who read drafts, walked me through plot problems, and talked me off of ledges.”

I don’t know about you but I find it appalling that Johnson and publisher G.P. Putnam’s Sons would stoop so low. It would be different if these were unbiased third parties or professional critics but by the author’s own pen, these are her friends. As such their opinions are irrelevant. Additionally the appearance of their feedback paired with Johnson’s admission call into question the integrity of all three women as they are essentially endorsing a piece they had a hand in creating. Bad form all around, bad form.

At this point you may be wondering why I have issued a two star rating rather than flagging The Name of the Star a complete waste of time. The truth is I, like so many others, have a rather morbid curiosity in regards to the Whitechapel murders. The basic concepts of the story are not altogether horrid and I actually really like the idea Johnson was trying to execute. The Ripper theme wasn't as strong as I had hoped but there were a handful of chapters towards the end where I actually felt the book was getting better. This brief shining moment was subsequently followed but a train wreck but that doesn’t change the fact that for a few pages, hope existed.

On the fence about taking on book two when it is published in the fall. If I learned anything from Anna Godberson’s Luxe series or Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy it is to listen to my gut and quit while I’m ahead. Still, I like to think authors improve with time and experience. I have yet to identify anyone who fits the description but I have been known to torture myself searching for that elusive diamond in the rough.
Profile Image for Pam Pho.
Author 11 books326 followers
September 18, 2011
There are several things I love about Maureen Johnson’s writing. Her ability to describe a setting in such a way that causes vivid imagery to accompany her words, and her incredibly intellectual wit that makes me laugh out loud while reading. When I read that Johnson was publishing a paranormal YA book I knew I had to read it.

Rory is a Southern girl going to school in London, I adore the way Rory sees the city and the brilliant deductions she makes about all things British. She is having an okay time at school, making friends and learning to fit in then she starts seeing things, things that no one else sees.

Not long after Rory sees a man that her roommate didn’t Rippermania seizes London. Is this the work of a copy cat killer? Can the police stop the next murders on the list since they know when and where they will happen? What can anyone glean from CCTV footage that doesn’t show an assailant?

Rory soon realizes what she saw wasn’t normal and is thrown into a world of secret police and paranormal investigation. Will the special team of Scotland Yard detectives be able to stop the Ripper before he strikes again?

The Name of the Star is full of edge-of-your-seat thrills, laugh-out-loud moments and quotable phrases. Johnson has breathed life into a genre swiftly turning stale and blended thriller with paranormal with humor in a recipe that is guaranteed to please. I promise you that this book is wholly unputdownable.

The Name of the Star comes out September 29th and features blurbs from paranormal goddesses like Cassie Clare and Holly Black.
Profile Image for Erin.
2,815 reviews494 followers
October 3, 2017
Audio book narrated by Nicola Barber(9h 50 min)

Goodreads has a great synopsis so I will not rehash the details here. Quite simply, "The Name of the Star" is a contemporary YA mystery with a mixture of romance and the supernatural set in London with a Jack the Ripper copycat. But like other reviewers, I felt there were so many chapters that served as "fillers" Pages of Rory's crazy family from Louisiana and endless details on the life of a British boarding school. A decent book, but it left me feeling unsatisfied.
Profile Image for Lindsay Cummings.
Author 13 books5,146 followers
April 17, 2015
Amazing!! listened to the audiobook while driving back and forth on tour stops. I HATE driving long hours but I was honestly excited about getting back in the car so I could hit play and dive back into the world. plus, the woman who does the audio does TONS of accents and it was incredible! this story is creepy, unique, and has a touch of Gothic feel that I just adore. ordered book 2 the second I finished :)
Profile Image for Jana.
486 reviews115 followers
January 5, 2012
This is actually the first book I’ve read that’s by Maureen Johnson, so I didn’t know what to expect. Normally, I would shy from these types of things; I mean come on it IS Jack the Ripper. Are you kidding me? I’m not a big fan of horror movies, or horror books ,for that matter.

A few weeks ago before reading the book, I (foolishly) thought that this was a historical paranormal. So imagine my surprise when I started reading and found out that this was set in present day, not in the 1880’s with the ‘actual’ Jack the Ripper.

The plot was very multi-layered and clever; it’s obvious that the author had put so much thought into this. I read in an interview that she intended the beginning to be heavy on the school boarding stuff, and I agree. At the start, I didn’t feel like I’m reading a paranormal story. It felt more like a contemporary. Which isn’t a bad thing. It wasn’t boring; it was unlike others I had read before.

What was up with the title? I asked myself. I actually thought of it literally. But you’ll find out in the book why it’s called that and YOU WILL AGREE WITH ME THAT THAT IS THE MOST FITTING AND BEAUTIFUL NAME FOR THIS BOOK. I love it whereas I hated it before.

You can see Maureen did her research. Damn, those historical facts were very interesting AND accurate. Despite living near London (well, quite) I had only been a few times (guys, I AM only fifteen) so I found her descriptions of locations very detailed. Oh, and I want to go to her boarding school now! Next year I would be doing my A-Levels as well (the same as Rory’s) and now I wish that the school was real ha! I also love the English references! , and how Rory compares them to the US.

Maureen’s writing is just lovely and fabulous. I admire her use of switching between third person and first person, formal and informal. The main character Rory’s personality shone through. Her humor is fresh and witty. I loved her. She’s just the kind of person you aspire to be. She’s not a wimp. But she’s not brave either, which showed that she’s human; she gets scared. She’s loyal, relatable, trustworthy and just a genuinely nice person.

If I had to be extremely picky about saying something negative (not that I have to but..) then I would say that I dislike the name ‘Rory’. Maybe that’s because I personally think it’s quite a masculine name for a girl and the fact that I know three boys called Rory in my school doesn’t help. At all.

Have I mentioned how FUNNY this book is? I never knew books with Jack the Ripper could be so amusing. But this one is. There were a lot of times that I was laughing out loud hysterically my dad was giving me strange looks. The writer managed to balance the creepiness and entertainment just right.

All the characters were very interesting and each and every one had a very distinct personality, with each of their own secrets. Rory, Jazza, Jerome, Alistair, I love. Even Boo, Stephen, Callum, where at first I had a sense of distrust and an unsettling feeling about them, all had something special and unique to add to the story. And don’t let me forget “Call Me Claudia” Claudia. Ha-ha, she’s got to be the funniest teacher ever.

One thing that I wasn’t particularly ok with was the romance. There’s a guy, then another one appeared, and THEN another one. It was not until near the end of the book that things were cleared up, and I crossed one guy off from the list. She’s on and off with unnamed guy, but I have a feeling the other guy (that I prefer) would be more prominent in the second book.

I know this is going to be a trilogy, but honestly I’m more than fine if it’s just a stand-alone. I think it’s one of those books that don’t leave you hanging; the story has a beginning, middle and the end.
Overall, The Name of The Star is one book that you cannot miss. You’ll have to read it. Or Jack the Ripper might go to you next.

My blog: http://jana-thebookgoddess.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Lina Lovegood.
176 reviews
August 27, 2016
Fand es richtig cool! Toller Schreibstil, gute Geschichte. Und wenn Jack the Ripper vorkommt hat man bei mir sowieso gewonnen.
Profile Image for Kristina Horner.
157 reviews1,808 followers
March 30, 2015
This book had been on my shelf for years, seriously, before I actually picked it up to read it. I'm not even sure why, because the plot was always intriguing to me.
I ended up having a great time with this story, and give it a solid 4. I thought the Jack The Ripper was stuff was interesting albeit a little on the fantastical side (the way London and the general media was reacting to these murders) but it didn't ruin the story for me. I enjoyed the main character, I enjoyed reading about the London boarding school life (which was surprising, as I'm a little burnt out on boarding school stories) and I found some parts to shockingly creepy - this book has just the right amount of spook in it.
Some of the side characters felt a little flat to me, but I loved the Shades and I loved the antagonist. Looking forward to reading the other books in the series.
Profile Image for Merna .
109 reviews377 followers
January 23, 2013
DNF. Not bothering with an actual review.

What a disappointing and dull book.

You would expect a book about Jack the ripper to be an enjoyable and entertaining read.

Though it was an absolute fail for a Jack the ripper story.

I can't stop remembering this particular scene...

It’s when Rory and her love interest are kissing, and they pull apart and a string of their saliva hangs in-between them or something.

description

Who the fuck puts that kind of description in a kissing scene? What a turn off.
What was the author attempting?

A lady and the tramp? Kind of reminds me of that.


I can't.

Nonetheless some might enjoy this book though. Just not me.
Profile Image for Nikoleta.
667 reviews269 followers
November 1, 2015
Αυτό το βιβλίο έχει μέσα μυστήριο: τον Τζακ τον Αντεροβγάλτη με τους ανατριχιαστικούς του φόνους. Είναι φαντασίας: παραφυσικές δραστηριότητες και πολλά φαντάσματα. Έχει ανάλαφρο χιούμορ: η ηρωίδα είναι γλυκιά, γκαφατζού και πολυλογού. Και όλα αυτά ταιριασμένα αρμονικά και στις σωστές δόσεις. Δηλαδή εντάξει… τι άλλο θα μπορούσα να ζητήσω;
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,670 reviews853 followers
March 1, 2021
#2) The Madness Underneath ★★☆☆☆
#3) The Shadow Cabinet ★★★★☆



Trigger warnings for .

▷ Representation: Boo (sc) Indian-British; Callum (sc) Jamacian-British; Jerome (li) asthma.

BlogTrigger Warning DatabaseTwitterInstagram
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,357 followers
October 19, 2011
I was really intrigued and quite pleased with The Name of the Star. I read it after seeing many dazzling reviews, so my expectations were quite high and though it wasn't perfect, I was very satisfied with it.

Jack the Ripper! That is all it took to entice me. Unless you have been born and raised under a rock, you have already heard about Jack the Ripper. His case is fascinating and very mysterious. I was really curious to find out how Maureen was going to use an extremely known story and make it fresh. I was not disappointed. I loved the creativity she used while writing the plot in this book. She obviously did her research and added quite a bit of actual Ripper facts in the story which was very interesting. Then she added some great plot elements to make it an original and refreshing story.

The first part of the book we have Rory who has moved to London to attend a private school. However, we don't have the usual private school cafeteria drama that you'd expect in this setting. Rory doesn't make instant enemies who happen to be the "it" crowd. Nor does she become the it crowd with the hottest guy in school. Rory is an ordinary high school student who works hard to get good grades and makes friends with her roommate. All the while a new killer is terrorizing London in much the same way as Jack the Ripper. Some may find it slow, but I enjoyed getting to know all the characters and Ripper facts before the furor. The second part is much more fast paced with a lot of plot progression and excitement.

The plot itself was nicely done with lots of fascinating facts and creative spooky encounters. I did have a few issues with the motives of the murderer. I can't say exactly what without going into spoilers, but I didn't understand the reasoning behind his motives. He never had any reason to think he was ever in danger unless he became troublesome. That is all I can say without giving away spoilers, but I think those who've read it will understand. I also understand, myself, that this is the first in a series, so the possibility of getting further explanations is still open.

It was refreshing to have no love triangle hanging in the air, but the romance was scarce at best. The love interest wasn't vert attractive or charming. I never felt much of a connection between him and the protagonist, but since it held such a scant part in the novel, it didn't affect my enjoyment of it by any means. I was reading this for the suspense, not the romance.

I was actually surprised and pleased to find quite a bit of humor added in the dialogue. The protagonist is smart and witty. I really enjoyed her way of thinking. There are a good number of great and amusing lines that I could have used as quotes in my review, but I was always too comfortable (or lazy) to write them down so I'll let you read them for yourself. :)

The ending will undoubtedly make anyone want to read the sequel right away. It's not a cliffhanger, but it opens the imagination to a great extent. In the end, it's a pretty good start to a potentially great series.
Profile Image for Rachel.
495 reviews50 followers
September 28, 2011
More like 3.5, but I haven't decided if I'm on the higher or lower side of it...

If you know me at all, you know I love serial killers. I don't love them in a way that'd make me want to be one or anything, don't worry, but I think their mentality and motives are absolutely fascinating. And there is no serial killer as famous as Jack the Ripper. People have been fascinated with the Ripper since he first started killing. There were no definitive eyewitnesses, he stopped at five women, and investigators couldn't decide whether he had medical training or not. He's the guy that got away, and always will be, because there's no way for us to solve the mystery today. Anyway, needless to say, I was excited to read The Name of the Star.

Given my excitement, The Name of the Star didn't quite live up to my standards. I don't quite know why, but I think it may have been that I wanted more creepy, serial killer craziness and not so much about supernatural powers. I did love the London setting and reading about places I've only seen in movies... Sigh. I also appreciated all the CORRECT facts. The facts of the Jack the Ripper murders are so well-documented and easy to find I probably would've stopped reading the book had a fact been wrong. Sometime I read books that have their facts completely wrong and I want to throw the across the room.

Anyways, I wanted action, action, action, but the beginning of the book was very much about the characters. I love well-developed characters, and most characters were, but it got to be a bit much. I especially didn't like Rory's love interest. He was kinda bleh for me. The second half of the book picked up, and the twist really made it more interesting, and made me really want a sequel, especially the ending. The end really had all the action that I had been waiting patiently for, and made the book definitely worth my time.

If you're creepy like me and love Jack the Ripper, this is a sure bet. Any fans of paranormal novels will get their fill, though I know the synopsis doesn't make it sound like it! All in all, The Name of the Star is a ripping good and creepy time.
Profile Image for Mel.
878 reviews340 followers
March 8, 2022
2022 reread:

This was as fun as I remember it being! I think there’s a lot of open spoilers for this book I’d keep hidden as I think it would ruin the vibe a bit, but I really enjoyed this. It’s fun, it’s unique, and the main character is great.
I’m excited to finally after all these years make my way to the sequel.

Just a fun fact about me: I don't read book blurbs. Whether I've been anticipating the book for a long time, or it's a book I've never heard of, I don't read blurbs. I find they give away too many little spoilers that I would much rather find out. Therefore I am a judge a book by it's cover type of person.
That being said, I chose to read this entirely because I loved Maureen Johnson's story in Let It Snow. That was my entire reason and therefore I had no idea what this book was about.
To put it mildly, I was extremely ecstatic when I realized that this was a Jack the Ripper story. I love to study Serial Killers, I read biographies and true crime books constantly and I study them in school so when I started this I was extremely excited. It did not disappoint.
Johnson managed to include this really unique idea and plot point into a story that I already liked. I would have loved to just read about a Jack the Ripper copycat, but the extra plots and storylines she included were amazing.
Her character building is so well done, I can see how talented Maureen Johnson is just from this one book. Rory is a strong character, and on top of that, she had about 10 minor characters who all managed to have their own personality, which is often times rare to see.
I will say, one thing that I found refreshing was the lack of love story. Yes there's a minor love interest, nothing major, but it doesn't dominate the storyline. Not even close, and I like that. Not that I don't love some good fluff once in a while, but I really wanted to read a book about something else with no romance and this definitely delivered.
Overall, a really really unique book that was well done.
October 29, 2012
The Name of the Star was a hit with me. Maureen Johnson got my attention as an author with her short story, "The Law of Suspects." It was utterly chilling and fantastic suspense. I appreciated how she writes with a respect for the intelligence of her readership, even though they are the YA audience. Like CS Lewis, I believe the best children's book is one that an adult can enjoy. I knew I was going to follow her after reading this brilliant short story. So when I saw this book was coming out, I was excited to read another full-length suspense novel by her. Let's just say that she's now two for two.

Are you into Jack the Ripper? I mean that in the best way. Meaning, do you have an interest in the mythos and story of Jack the Ripper? Many people do, so don't be ashamed if the answer is yes. The only reason I ask is because this is a book to check out if you do.

While this book is very thrilling suspense with a supernatural twist, it's also a funny coming of age story. Our heroine Rory is from Louisiana, and she has that sparkling Southern woman vibe that I find irresistible. I love her character's voice, the down to earth way she looks at life, and how she manages to find the wry humor in her situation. Johnson engaged me as a reader by giving me a protagonist that I started caring about on the first page of the story. She also pulled the British card, which will get me almost every time. Through in a modern story with a Gothic atmosphere and it makes for an irresistible read. She goes with a "Sixth Sense" theme, and like that movie, you don't quite catch on immediately, but when you do, it's a natural process. I can't say much more about that, because as River Song from Doctor Who says, "Spoilers!"

So yes, this was a hit for me. Such a marvelous concoction of suspense, humor, young adult emotions and situations, and yes, out and out terror in some parts of the book. Suspense builds wonderfully, adding to that gothic atmosphere until I was anxiously waiting for the next aspect of the story to be revealed. The villain is layered and complex, gradually revealed in a way that showed a lot more was going on than I thought. I really appreciated that, that wonderful feeling of finding I didn't have the answers all figured out until the very end when I was supposed to know all those things.

Well, I think I talked myself into giving this book five stars, even though I told myself I was going to be more rigorous about reviewing books and giving five stars.

People I recommend this book to:

*Ripperologists or Folks who are 'into' Jack the Ripper
*Anglophiles
*People who have an obsession with boarding school (like myself)
*People who like Southerners and Southern philosophy on life
*People who like sausage (you have to read to know where I am going with this)
*People who like ghost stories
*People who like 80s new wave like The Smiths and The Cure
*People who like a good, well-written suspense novel
*People who like fish out of water books, specifically Americans in Britain

If any of these things sound like you, read this book! I recommend it!
Profile Image for Emma.
2,385 reviews810 followers
February 10, 2020
February 2020 reread
Yep! Just as brilliant as I remembered!
January 2018
A great YA paranormal urban fantasy story and the good news is this is a series. This is my first read of this author and I was impressed with the gentle humour and genuine insight into the mind of late teens in general and Rory, the main character's, personality. The supporting characters are likeable too and the fact that the focus of this book was not teenaged angst and romance was a big plus. Call-me-Claudia, the hockey-loving house mistress was good fun too. I shall definitely be continuing this series. Recommended.
Profile Image for Brigid ✩.
581 reviews1,819 followers
July 16, 2012
Okay, I love Maureen Johnson. She is a lovely and intelligent and hilarious person. So far, I've enjoyed all the books she's written. (I'm pretty sure I've read all of them...)

That said, I found The Name of the Star somewhat disappointing. I don't know, maybe I had unrealistically high expectations, and I also thought the book would be about something completely different. But, don't get me wrong. I did enjoy this book. But, I suppose it just wasn't quite as good as I had hoped it would be.

First of all, I thought this book was going to be historical fiction, about Jack the Ripper. And since I hadn't seen Maureen Johnson do historical fiction yet, I was like, "OOH GOODIES. Something different!" But ... actually, this story is set in modern day. And it's not about Jack the Ripper. It's about a murderer imitating the crimes of Jack the Ripper. Wahhh. But even so, I could see how the premise could work and be something really interesting.

Unfortunately, I found the first 100 or so pages of the book to be pretty ... blahhh. Our protagonist, Rory, is an American girl who goes off to London for boarding school. She knows next to nothing about England or the way the British school system works––so basically, she just tries to figure it out for about the first fourth of the book. She tries to get used to living in a different country, she makes new friends, her friends are like, "Oh hoho you silly American! Let us teach you our British ways!" There are a lot of info dumps about what England is like, what the school is like, and so forth. It's clear that Maureen Johnson either knows a lot about England and/or did a lot of research on it. And yes, of course I respect the fact that she put so much effort into looking up this information to make her story more authentic. However, that doesn't mean she had to explain so much of it in large chunks.

And once we get into the actual plot, it still wasn't the most exciting. Also, it kind of unexpectedly turned into a paranormal book about halfway through. It still kept me interested for the most part, and it involved some cool ideas, but ... I don't know. It always kind of irks me when I think a book is realistic fiction and then it suddenly becomes fantastical. There was some foreshadow, but I felt like it could have been a little more obvious. I mean, I went from thinking this was historical fiction, to thinking it was a modern-day murder mystery, to figuring out that it was actually fantasy. So, that was a little confusing.

But, there were aspects of the book that I liked. Although Rory isn't my favorite protagonist ever, at least she was funny and seemed realistic most of the time. Although, by the end I didn't feel like she had developed enough. She was still kind of the same person. But, judging from the ending I guess there will be a sequel...? So she still has time to grow, I suppose.

And I liked most of the side characters. Boo and Jazza and Jerome were all pretty likable. (Speaking of which, I loved that part where Jerome and Rory were going through the museum analyzing all the different kinds of butts in the paintings––that is totally something I would do.)

Over all, this wasn't terrible and it wasn't life-changing. It was good. Just good. I enjoyed reading it; I liked the humor and the characters and the premise (although it was a little confusingly executed). There were a lot of unexpected twists and turns to the story. There were some pacing issues, and parts/characters that could have been more developed, but I still liked the book. Although I'm not dying for the sequel (if there is one), I'd read it just to see where this goes.
Profile Image for Amanda.
1,067 reviews222 followers
February 16, 2020

2020 reread - I’m not going to change my original rating but it didn’t quite hit 5 star status for me in reread. I think mostly because in a shocking twist I actually remembered most of this story so I knew things this time around that I didn’t on the first read which made it less compelling but I still really enjoyed it and definitely put this as one of my top trilogies.



After thinking about this for a couple of days I'm changing my rating to 5 stars. Series like this is why I read YA and it deserves 5 stars.
Profile Image for jv poore.
606 reviews196 followers
April 14, 2015
The first book in The Shades of London series, The Name of the Star sucked me right in and held tightly. I have never been so thrilled to have the next book-in-the-series- already on hand. One book with these dynamic, compelling and wickedly funny characters was simply not enough.

Because Ms. Johnson could write an entertaining cereal box, I'll share a few of my favorite quotes from this book rather than give a detailed review in an effort to lure you in.


“Something about her suggested that her leisure activities included wrestling large woodland animals and banging bricks together.”

“He told me scary Jack the Ripper facts, and I had the sudden need to make out with him until I ran out of breath.”

“You assume everyone you see is alive.”

“Some things are so bad that once you’ve been through them, you don’t have to explain your reasons to anyone.”

“I’d been ripped by the Ripper. I was a walking T-shirt slogan.”
Profile Image for Lexie.
218 reviews195 followers
June 4, 2016
It's unfortunate to be on a YA Mystery binge and reach for a book marketed as YA Mystery, labeled as YA Mystery, dressed as YA Mystery...

... and which decidedly isn't YA Mystery.

But, hey, boarding school shenanigans!
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,810 reviews348 followers
July 5, 2018
Another example of really enjoyable YA literature. It reminded me of Paul Cornell’s London Falling (although it is not nearly so dark) what with the Jack the Ripper references and ghostly presences. But the main character, Rory Deveraux, made me think of Karen Marie Moning’s MacKayla Lane (the Fever series)—both are Southern girls with professional parents who go to school in the U.K. Both girls are capable of seeing things that ordinary people can’t—MacKayla sees the Fae, Rory sees dead people. However, Rory is much less self-absorbed & she is smarter and funnier as a main character.

I really enjoy this author’s sense of humour! I adored her descriptions of Claudia, the school’s house mother: “Something about her suggested that her leisure activities included wrestling large woodland animals and banging bricks together.” She is, in fact, the field hockey coach and very devoted to that sport. Later, Rory says, “She introduced herself to my parents with one of her mighty, bunny-crushing handshakes. (I’d never seen Claudia crush a bunny, to be fair, but that’s the approximate level of pressure.)” Perhaps she’s a bit of a female Hagrid, despite the fact that this is not a school for wizards.

The real details of homework, living in residence, cafeteria meals, etc. grounded the novel for me. Rory gets drawn into the paranormal gradually, but still has to cope with reading assignments and essays like a regular student. Rory has just the right amount of snark in her soul to make all these tea-drinking, field hockey-dreading moments highly entertaining. She also acquires a small circle of reliable friends, reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I’m not sure when I’ll be able to pick up book two, but I am very much looking forward to it!

Profile Image for Brooke.
136 reviews167 followers
October 12, 2011
WOW! That last page!

This better be part of a series, or I will have a mini fit.

The Name of the Star was one heck of a book - creepy, funny, adventure-and-action filled, I really enjoyed it! I read it slowly over a few days, however I'm glad I did as I was able to take it all in and marvel in its uniqueness.

There's just something about Jack the Ripper that sends shivers down your spine. I knew, reading this, that I was going to look into the original Ripper murders, and my goodness, some of those images have been forever burned into my brain. I can only imagine the horror the people of London must have experienced when the real Ripper killings were taking place.

The Name of the Star was clever, well written and had my attention the whole way through. There were times I found myself sitting with my eyes wide open in shock, thinking 'NO, don't go there, don't do that!', and then other times where I was cringing or laughing. Such a mix of emotions.

Definitely worth your while reading this one, go do it. Saucy Jack dares you.
260 reviews105 followers
February 20, 2013
Jack the Ripper is one of those topics I really wish they'd cover in the History syllabus for school. Instead it's 20th century this, and 20th century that. Even at A level - which, for all you non-British, non-TNofS readers, are the two years of excrutiating study we have before university, in which we study four and then three subjects respectively, of our own choosing - the syllabus for the vast majority of the time is an unimaginative, repetitive look at 20th century European and USA history, just in loads more detail. So when I saw that Maureen Johnson had chosen to set her story around Jack the Ripper, and in my home city of London, I instantly knew I had to read it. And, I am delighted to say, it did not disappoint.

Rory Deveaux moves from Louisiana to London to study at Wexford Academy. The same day she arrives, the first in a string of copycat murders takes place. Someone has killed a woman in exactly the same way that Jack the Ripper murdered his first victim. As the murders continue, with the murderer leaving absolutely no trace of themselves despite all the CCTV cameras, London becomes more and more afraid, the media more and more frantic. Rory herself gets swept into a world she didn't even know existed. And it all starts with her seeing a strange man that no-one else can see. It's not long before it's her turn to be a target of the new Ripper.

It's clear that Johnson knows her stuff, right from the beginning. The information given to us in terms of the Ripper cases is clear and detailed. The whole nature of these crimes is completely dark and horrific, and I'm glad that the author didn't shy away from that. The pacing of the first half was somewhat slow, but after a while I actually didn't mind, instead enjoying learning about the boarding school Rory's at and how she settles in. The second half was engaging with its plot developments. Rory herself is just hilarious. Seriously. I really didn't expect this book to be so funny, and yet there were parts where I just had to laugh at Rory's take on things. To begin with, it was amusing to see how shocked she was at the culture difference between here and America, to have to learn different phrases and grow used to the cold and never-ending rain. I still can't believe that Blu-Tack doesn't exist in America. It's just so weird to think about. And the Underground. Oh my God. Rory got so excited about tubes and the Underground, you'd think she was Arthur Weasley. She also had loads of anecdotes from her life in America that she referred to. Rory was independent, down-to-earth and generally really likeable.

I mentioned plot developments. I love the different ideas that Johnson has brought together here. You can tell she had a clear image of what she wanted in this story, and it all came together nicely. The take on Jack the Ripper here is not one you're going to find elsewhere. All the characters generally had their own voice, and I liked how there weren't any stereotypes. What I didn't quite understand, however, was the romance. There was no insta-love, there was no love triangle, but...the romance itself was barely there. The way it was introduced wasn't exactly obvious, and I didn't understand why Rory and her guy of choice were together. I mean, they're both likeable characters, but I didn't get their relationship. The love interest himself is also slightly weird, and I couldn't really see how Rory was so comfortable with it, at least without asking him about it. You'll see what I mean if you read it. Having said that, though, there was something about him that I liked. And for some reason he sounded unbearably cute when he quoted those Spice Girls lyrics. I'm weird, I know.

This being the first book by Maureen Johnson that I've read, I'm sufficiently impressed. Romance aside, this is a well-rounded novel with an intriguing plotline. I appreciated the development of the secondary characters, Alistair and Jazza being particular favourites, and reading from Rory's perspective was truly wonderful. The ending isn't a cliffhanger, but it's definitely a brilliant opening for the sequel - which, luckily for me, I have and will hopefully be starting relatively soon. I highly recommend this to those of you who haven't read it yet.

This review is also posted on my blog.
Profile Image for Irene ➰.
356 reviews76 followers
May 21, 2018
3.75/5 〜 ITA/ENG (NOW ADDED)

“Ciò che temete è il nome della stella.”


Classico libro Urban Fantasy ma con un finale molto promettente!
Allora da quel che mi risulta è stato tradotto purtroppo solo il primo libro della serie, peccato.
La trama è molto semplice da seguire, svolgimento abbastanza lentino nella prima parte, e parecchio avvincente invece nella seconda.

Si parte con il classico trasferimento di città/scuola e la nostra protagonista, Rory, deve affrontare i classici problemi de teenager che vive nel campus.
La parte diversa qui è che nel frattempo si stanno svolgendo una serie di omicidi che sembrano dare il via ad una nuova era di Jack lo Squartatore.
Durante una scappatella tra compagni, Rory sembrerebbe essere l’unica ad aver visto un uomo aggirarsi per il campus a tarda notte. Nessun altro dei suoi compagni infatti ne ha rilevata la presenza una volta interrogati dalla polizia.
Si scoprirà presto il perché nessuno ha visto questa misteriosa figura e perchè questa catena di omicidi sta dando del filo da torcere agli investigatori.

Come ho detto lo svolgimento è piuttosto lento, gli eventi interessanti sì, sono presenti, ma durano poco a mio avviso. Ero quasi convinta di concludere con un tre stelle, visto l’andamento. Non l’ho mai considerato un brutto libro, semplicemente non era nulla di così nuovo o con chissà che rivelazioni. Una volta invece che si entra nel cuore della storia, e soprattutto verso le ultime 150/100 pagine, si ha finalmente una vera avventura soprannaturale che porta ad un finale che ti invoglia molto a proseguire con la serie.

Sicuramente lo farò, anche perché è un genere che generalmente mi appassiona e sono comunque molto curiosa di sapere come si svilupperà la storia ora che abbiamo bene a fuoco il gruppo di ragazzi e i loro ruoli, quindi spero si dia meno spazio alle chiacchiere e molto di più all’azione!
________________

Pretty classic Urban Fantasy book but with a very premising finale!
For what I saw, only the first book of the series got translated, what a shame.
The plot is super easy to follow, the development is kinda slow during the first part, but very exciting during the second.

We start with very classic moving of town/school and our protagonist, Rory, has to deal with the very common problems of a teen girl living in the school campus.
The twist here is that meanwhile there are some murders going on, and apparently they are the beginning of a new Jack the Ripper era.
While out with her schoolmates, Rory looks like is the only one who saw the presence of a strange man in the campus. No one of her schoolmates seems to have seen him once questioned by the authorities.
We will soon discover why no one saw this mysterious figure and why this homicides are giving to the police a very hard time.

As I said the development is pretty slow, interesting events are yes present, but they don’t last long enough. I was almost certain to end the book with a three stars rating, seeing how things were going. I never considered it a bad book, it was simply nothing too new or crazy exciting. But once entered the heart of the story, especially toward the last 150/100 pages, we finally have a real paranormal adventure that brings after a bomb finale that really makes you want to continue with the series.

I will definitely do it because it’s a genre that it generally attracts me, and I’m very curious to see how the story develops now that it’s all very clear, the group of people and their roles, so I really hope less space will be given to conversations and given way more to action!
Profile Image for Lindsay.
78 reviews77 followers
August 21, 2017
3.25 stars, maybe 3.5?? I'm not sure.
Who's ready for an unorganized review that contains spoilers?
Great! Take a seat.

So, this book is… like Harry Potter, except Peeves is the villain and there's no magic. There are obviously places where one can argue that this is not true, but hear me out.

- Sassy main character
- Both have abilities that make them ~different~
Yer a ghost seer, Rory.
- Fricken Peeves
- British boarding school! (Honestly I thought prefects were only a Harry Potter thing. I was thrown. I'm very American.)
- Lovable gang of misfit friends
- Romance that was not necessary and TBH was kinda awkward to read about??? I liked Jerome, but their relationship was odd. It was like they were just bored and were like, "Eh, I guess I can make out with my friend." Convenience relationship.
See: Cho Chang and Harry for comparison.


Why I gave it 3ish stars:

- I liked this. I loved the beginning, but the last 40% became DIFFICULT.

- Info dumps. Ahhhhhh, so many info dumps. They do add to the story and give it a fuller picture, but it was hard to push through certain passages.

- I liked Boo.

- I liked Jazza, but I didn't like how Jazza was pushed to the wayside when the ghost-seeing plot twist (? debatable plot twist) came to light. I get that the story moved its focus, but Jazza still existed!! I wanted more interactions.

- The kickoff of this Ripper Mania was kind of ridiculous. I didn't believe that any news station would take a random murder and automatically say, "So this is obviously a Ripper. We have to keep an eye on these specific dates. Everyone be scared." Everyone just bought the idea of a New Ripper too easily. I don't know.

- I went in expecting this to be an actual mystery. Like I actually thought the identity of the Ripper was going to be a surprise. Was it Jerome? Was it Allistair? Could it have been Jazza?! I try my best not to look into synopses before I start books, because they tend to give too much away. All I knew about this going in was that it was about a Ripper copycat and the MC got to know them?? I thought she was going to accidentally date the Ripper. Oops.

- It didn't even occur to Rory she was seeing ghosts?? It was abundantly clear to me as soon as she met Allistair. She just never questioned that she was seeing people others couldn't. She brushed it off. I'd be SHOOK the first time that happened.

- I did like the concept of ghosts in here, though. That was great. The author wasn't just like, "Here's our world with absolute proof of ghosts. Accept it." She explained more scientifically how the ghosts exist. The seer-science is still iffy. What's this ~underlying gene~? Does cousin Diane have this gene too, to explain her connection with those angels?

-She also explained the Ripper really well. The actual Ripper, I should say. As someone who only knew that Jack the Ripper was a Victorian serial killer, I liked I now know quite a bit about him. She did her research, for sure.

- Rory is really funny. I liked her narration and her dialogue a lot.

- Interesting ending. Rory is the terminus now. Cool. Does it make me want to pick up the next book right now? Uhhh, no. I can already see how book 2 will play out (at least… generally) and I'm not dying (pun intended) for it. I might pick it up laaaaaaaaater.


I think that may be all I have to say about this.


Would it pass the Bechdel Test?: Oh yes. Many times. That made me happy, for some reason.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Emily.
187 reviews301 followers
October 30, 2011
The Name of the Star is the second book I've read by Maureen Johnson. I admit that I love reading her blog and her Twitter feed, but 13 Little Blue Envelopes fell a little flat for me so I always assumed I liked Maureen more than I actually liked her work. However, the premise of TNotS intrigued me (Girl moves to London and becomes tangled up in a Jack the Ripper style murder mystery) so I bought this pretty much as soon as it came out. I wasn't expecting much more than an enjoyable, entertaining read, but I was pleasantly surprised.

First thing you need to know: this book is funny. Yes, there's blood, mad murderers on the loose and many creepy encounters, but Maureen makes sure the reader has something to grin about every few pages. Which was awesome, because it probably would've been a bit of a downer of a book otherwise.

The second thing you need to know: it's a clever book. Maureen doesn't condescend to her readers and she doesn't beat them over the head with all the answers. She shows amazing control over the pace of the story, and I think that is one of the things that makes this novel work so well.

The climax was nicely executed. At first I thought it was just going to be a huge info dump, but it wasn't at all. There was a great twist that I didn't see coming, which is something I always appreciate.

Did I mention it's funny? It is! It's also quite scary in some parts (I know I was feeling a bit spooked as I read it late at night), but I am also the kind of person who can't watch movies that are even slightly scary because I'm a huge chicken. So, I wouldn't be too worried about that.

I'm keen to see where Maureen takes this series. Bring on The Madness Underneath!

Profile Image for Hilly.
684 reviews1,216 followers
August 10, 2018
I skimmed through the last 100 pages really fast so I don’t even know how this ends but I don’t care.
I wasn’t expecting much but at least the first half was entertaining. Then ghosts are introduced and everything goes downhill. The school setting was not important anymore and I think that’s what disappointed me.
I don’t understand the relationships in this book. I don’t know what it is but they feel boring and flat, as if every character is always talking through a glass panel. All of them just keep drinking every chance they have and reading about it was so tiring and vexing.
The romance had no chemistry and was instalovey. Jerome was kinda cute but he had no depth, he was just Rory’s love interest and nothing else.
The full descriptions of Rory’s insane family were so unnecessary and embarrassing.

This year 2018 I’ve been tackling my oldest TBR of YA from 2010/2013 and honestly it’s not worth it. I’ve hated every single one *cries*
Profile Image for Maria Papadaki.
149 reviews12 followers
May 28, 2017
Αυτό το βιβλίο έχει τα πάντα! Φαντάσματα, χιούμορ, μια αξιολάτρευτη ηρωίδα και τον Τζακ τον Αντεροβγάλτη. Η δεκαεφτάχρονη Αουρόρα έρχεται απο την Αμερική να φοιτήσει στο Λονδίνο. Όταν φτάνει όμως, γίνεται μια δολοφονία με τον ίδιο τρόπο που χτύπαγε και ο Τζακ ο Αντεροβγάλτης. Οι δολοφονίες συνεχίζονται και η ζωή της Ρόρι στο σχολείο αναστατώνεται διαρκώς μιας και το σχολείο της βρίσκεται στο Ανατολικό Λονδίνο όπου δρα και ο νέος Τζακ. Η μόνη που μπορεί να λύσει το μυστήριο είναι η Ρόρι μιας και είναι η μόνη που έχει δει τον δολοφόνο. Μαζί με την παρέα της θα προσπαθήσει να λύσει αυτό το κουβάρι και θα βρεθεί αντιμέτωπη με τις ιδιαίτερες ικανότητες που μαθαίνει ότι έχει.
Θα ήθελα πάρα πολύ και τα υπόλοιπα βιβλία της σειράς να κυκλοφορούσαν στην Ελλάδα. Είμαι σίγουρη οτι θα έσπευδα να τα αποκτήσω.
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