Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Book Review : Name of The Star by Maureen Johnson

“Keep calm and carry on. 
Also, stay in and hide because the Ripper is coming.” 
― Maureen JohnsonThe Name of the Star

As a fan of Maureen Johnson this novel was on my radar pretty early. The 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 Johsnon splits her time between London and New York so, I think she included some interesting aspects of British life we may not be aware off. 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 characters 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 alot 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 paramornal 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.” 


  1. I like Maureen Johnson so I am curious about this book. I love paranormal reads so I want to give this a try. I have heard really good and bad things about it which makes me want to read books even more. A little bit of a cliche is all good with me lol but I am interested in the Ripper storyline. I'll have to pick this up sometime.

  2. "I think this book is perfect for Americans who are obsessed with British culture and life."

    I agree! I hadn't read Maureen Johnson before, as I tend to prefer the paranormal leaning, but this one intrigued me, and I'm a bit British/boarding school obsessed, so it fit the bill. I liked that it highlighted less discussed things about life in London, like the reality that there are cameras EVERYWHERE, and the weather and what not. Personally, I was one of those who really enjoyed this book and I can't wait for the next installment.

    1. I'm American, so I had no idea about those cameras ! I can't wait for the next one either, but it's so long from now !

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  5. I do love to read about British culture and love books set over seas. And this one sounds like and interesting one, especially because of the paranormal elements. I'm curious at how they play out the Jack the Ripper style murders and how the characters come out of this one.

    1. I think she does a good job of explaining the murders, so even if you aren't all together familiar with the tale you understand what is happening.

  6. This was one of my favourite reads last year. I think it was a great way to introduce readers to Johnson's work. I had never read anything of hers before, but I will now because I loved her style. I loved the characters of Jazza and Rory, the London setting, Ripper, etc.

    Also to answer your question I think it quite likely is a jab at Twilight. When I read it the first time in the book I actually laughed out loud because I was like "TWILIGHT" you just got burned! Haha.

    Can't wait to see what this series brings next! Unfortunately we have to wait until Jan. 2, 2013 :(

  7. Thanks for reminding me! This book was on my list, but I kinda forgot about it, so now it's higher on the list!



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