The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (book review)

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The day that Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school is also the day a series of brutal murders breaks out over the city, killings mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper spree 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—the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target.

384 pages | Published: September 29, 2011 | Penguin Group

MY THOUGHTS:

For a story that revolves around Jack the Ripper, I expected there to be many more Ripper moments.

The first chunk of The Name of the Star consists of serious build-up and character building, specifically that of Rory and her new life at boarding school. It’s a typical fish-out-of-water scenario.  That said, the characters are all memorable and realistic – especially the boys.  For once, it was nice to not have boys banging down any doors, standing outside windows with boomboxes, or going out of their way to get the girl.  Consequently, the romance took a back seat.  And even when it was prevalent, it was spontaneous and … awkward.  Really, all it did was get my hopes up very early on.

I never expected this story to take the turn that it did.  It kept me hooked, but dissolved into a letdown.  I never felt the urgency or terror associated with the Ripper drama. Instead of increasing in action, it dwindles, becoming a long history lesson. Between long monologues and recounts of past events, I fought to finish. The latter half of The Name of the Star feels as if it’s a separate story, woven together out of thin air.  I felt tricked, no longer understanding the story’s progression.  Had there been more answers to Rory’s questions, maybe I’d be satisfied as well. But I’m just left wondering how the story gets from point A to point B.

This is a good one if you enjoy mysteries that pull you in multiple directions.  It’s not entirely unpredictable, but more teasing than anything.  Don’t expect to be scared. It’s rather tame. Ultimately, I’m unsure what The Name of the Star tries to achieve.

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6 Responses to “REVIEW! The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.”

  1. Have you read any of Maureen Johnson’s contemp books? I’m curious how they compare.

  2. We Heart YA says:

    Really good review. We only read part of NAME OF THE STAR (then the library book was due back, haha) but we agree that it wasn’t completely… even/coherent. Like, we enjoyed it well enough, but we were never totally absorbed or emotionally engaged. We might finish it, just to find out what happened, but… well, we might just enjoy Maureen Johnson’s Twitter stream instead. 😛

    • Alissa says:

      Yes, exactly: never fully engaged. I wanted to be, so badly. But the story never added up.

      I think it’s worth finding out what happens. But if there’s a sequel (which I’m betting there is one already planned), I probably wouldn’t attempt it.

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