The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Published: September 29th, 2011
Publisher: Putman Juvenile
372 pages (hardcover)
Genre: YA paranormal/thriller
Acquired this book: From the library
Warning: may include spoilers
Synopsis: The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events 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. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.
I’ve had a sick fascination with Jack the Ripper for years, so when I first heard about this book, I was really excited. I entered a gazillion giveaways for it, had it as the second book on my wish list, and then my library finally got it. Although I enjoyed it, it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for.
I thought the concept of the book was fantastic. The new Jack the Ripper being a ghost (that seriously freaked me out), and there being a secret ghost police - terrific ideas. It was creepy, and had its funny and exciting moments, but for the most part, it left me with a bit of a ‘meh’ feeling. It dragged a lot, and I spent quite a bit of time waiting for something to happen between Rory telling weird stories about her even weirder family back in New Orleans. I just didn’t feel satisfied with a few things - the reasoning behind ghost-Jack's killings, the lackluster ‘romance’ between Rory and Jeremy, and a few other little things. Also, the book was set in London but I didn't feel like we got to see much of London - if a book has a cool setting like that, use it to your advantage (think Anna and the French Kiss)!
Even though the book creeped me out, I wish the author had ramped it up a bit. It’s rare that I read scary/creepy books (I’m a bit of wuss when it comes to scary stuff), so when I do read them, I want to be sufficiently freaked. Like I said, the concept of the new Ripper being a ghost scared me, and the climax was great, but there could have been more.
Rory wasn’t my favorite character ever, and I didn’t like Jeremy, but I thought Jazza and Boo were fun characters, and I liked Callum, Stephen, and even Alistair. I thought having ghosts mixed in as characters other than the Ripper was a really neat idea, and it helped showcase Rory's new abilities.
I’m interested to see where the series will go. I’m hoping that Rory will develop as a character and mature in the next book, and that the story will have less unnecessary filler. I'm also hoping for more creep-factor, and a bit more romance...just hopefully not with Jeremy!