Kristilyn's Reviews > The Name of the Star

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
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Jan 20, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: read-in-2012, physical-book, read-in-2013, reread
Read on September 18, 2013

All through my younger years, up until this day, I’ve had an obsession. I simply can’t get enough of shows like Unsolved Mysteries, or Weird or What?, or Mostly True Stories: Urban Legends Revisited. Or, there’s the books, like Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, or ghost story books, or books about weird things in general.

Yeah, it’s a little strange. I’ll just say that I’m glad I don’t have a lot of these things kicking around, what with not having cable, or having given away a lot of my “weird” books, because they would always creep me out and I wouldn’t get any sleep.

One book I remember having in my collection was a book about serial killers. It was one of those books that cost something like $5 at the bookstore–a large book, full colour, with general information on the deadliest people out there. I loved reading it–during the day, of course–but ended up giving it away to the used bookstore (something I did with quite a few of my books, sadly enough). After reading Maureen Johnson’s book, the first in the Shades of London series, The Name of the Star, I wish I hadn’t given it away.

I’m always leary of young adult fiction, especially nowadays, what with vampires, werewolves, witches, and whatnot roaming the pages. It can be a bit tiresome reading the same thing over and over again, but because of my love of fiction, I keep reading. When I picked up Maureen Johnson’s latest novel–or, after I waited months to get it from my library–I cracked it open without glancing at the synopsis. Surely a book that was in such high demand, garnering rave reviews all over the internet was a wonderful book.

I’m proud to say that yes, it was absolutely wonderful.

I’m not sure what prompted me to read this novel late at night, but I know I’ll have to follow it with something a little more humorous because The Name of the Star is freaky! It’s the story of 16-year-old Aurora–who goes by Rory (my inner Gilmore Girl addict was happy about this)–who moves to London to attend boarding school. Little did she know that shortly after her school year starts, someone would reenact the murders of Jack the Ripper, practically right outside her door. When Rory comes into contact with the murderer, a mystery starts to unravel that will have you on the edge of your seat wondering why you hadn’t read the book sooner.

I know I was wondering the same thing.

I loved Rory in this book. She was the perfect character, practically a young Southern belle, hailing from Louisiana. Her innocence and charm shined through as she attended her new school and you can only empathize with her as she braves making new friends, attending new classes, and living in a new place.

Besides Rory, there are other wonderful characters in the book–Jazza, the roommate was lovely, just what I would want in a roommate in a new school. My favourite thing about her was that she would read Jane Austen in bed with a cup of tea. Very English, no?

There is romance in this novel and I’m happy to say that it’s not overdone. This is a story that focuses mainly on the Jack the Ripper theme, rather than the romance. Though, the inner romancaholic in me was happy for what was there. I don’t want to give anything away, but I’m happy that it doesn’t come across as the typical YA romance.

Maureen Johnson had me on the edge of my seat for the entire close-to-400 pages of her book. Right when I told myself I was going to put it down, I realized I had read all the way to the end–it was that good. The characters were so well fleshed out, the plot was perfect, there was enough twists and turns to keep me going, and I loved how the book stood on its own, despite being part of a series. There’s a definitely cliffhanger, but there’s also a complete, finished story here as well.

I would recommend The Name of the Star to anyone who loves well-written YA fiction. It’s a wonderful–and truly haunting–read that might keep you up! Read during the daytime, if you must.
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Reading Progress

01/20/2012 page 183
49.0%

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