“Keep calm and carry on.
Also, stay in and hide because the Ripper is coming.”
― Maureen Johnson, The Name of the Star
As a fan of Maureen Johnson, this novel was on my radar pretty early. The cover and synopsis of this novel looked like a departure from her usual work so I was excited to see what Johnson would come up with. She doesn’t usually write paranormal stuff and most of her books aren’t series.
The Name Of The Star starts off at a slow pace. Lousiana teenager Aurora “Rory” Deveaux decides to attend Wexford, a London boarding school when her parents get jobs in England. At the same time, a string of Jack The Ripper copycat murders are happening around the school.
We are slowly dipped into world of Wexford and get a feel for Rory’s environment and the tension of the situation. Once the plot got rolling I was quickly captivated.
I think this book is perfect for Americans who are obsessed with British culture and life. I know Johnson splits her time between London and New York so, I think she included some interesting aspects of British life we may not be aware of. Like that they have bars at high school dances. Her descriptions of Wexford and London felt so spot on, it made me want to visit.
The book and characters come off as very British maybe to a point where it feels cliched. It takes place at a boarding school. One character likes to drink tea and read in the evening and of course, they have names like Jazza, Boo and Callum.
Rory doesn’t have the strongest of personalities, but I feel like we get to know a lot about who she is and where she comes from.I loved her relationship with her roommate Jazza. The two girls like to read books and drink tea in the evening and I think that’s something most people reading this review can appreciate. They felt so real.
Johnson has also created a pretty large and diverse cast without making it super obvious. It was nice to see characters from different backgrounds show up in YA. I loved most of the characters, they felt fully developed and I could clearly see them in my head. I honestly felt like they all didn’t get enough screen time.
Even though this is a contemporary-ish novel with a paranormal twist, I think the world-building was really solid. I think Johnson captures exactly what would happen if there was a repeat of the Jack the Ripper murders
Johnson will occasionally swtich perspective to tell a more full story and I thought it flowed nicely with the storytelling. The plot felt like it could have been more intricately handled it seemed a little muddled. Overall the story was good, but the details could have been better. Once the big reveal was made I was hooked, but I wish it had been handled differently. This book also has a cliffhanger, something I think a book really needs to sustain itself as a series.
Also, is this a Twilight reference ???
“I looked at the stained-glass image of the lamb in the window above me, but that only reminded me that lambs are famous for being led to slaughter, or sometimes hanging out with lions in ill-advised relationships.”
I’m a lifelong reader who started blogging about YA books in 2011 but now I read in just about every genre! I love YA coming of age stories, compelling memoirs and genre bending SFF. You can find me talking all things romance at Romance and Sensibility.