Book Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (Shades of London #1)
Publisher: Putnam
Format: ARC (courtesy of Fire and Ice Tours)
Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult
Publication Date: 09.29.2011
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.

Keep calm and carry on. Also, stay in and hide because the Ripper is coming.
-Maureen Johnson, The Name of the Star (uncorrected proof)
Maureen Johnson sure knows how to tell one heck of a ghost story. Her descriptions of modern London, coupled with the historical aspects of Jack the Ripper were fantastically chilling. I read this book so quickly, I could hardly keep up with myself...which wasn't very good for my brain at 3:00 in the morning, but whatevs. This book was cool!

For some reason, I didn't catch that it is set in modern London until I began reading. It says so in the description, but no matter how many times I read it, I didn't pick that up. I was expecting a story about the murders of 1888, but opened to find a modern setting. I didn't mind at all though, as the story was extremely interesting.

There were a lot of historical facts and comparisons between this modern Ripper and the original, which were stealthily snuck in, and that I really liked. Johnson did her homework well and was sure to cover all the angles, from known facts, to unconfirmed rumors. I actually learned a thing or two...and I've already read a few Ripper books prior to reading this (well done!). Along these same lines, I really like the reason for the title: The Name of the Star...which I didn't understand before reading it. Sooo creepy, but sooo cool!

The only downside to all this is that so much of the book was focused on the Ripper, that Rory (the main character) and the love interest were just a little flat, and too much of their relationship happened off of the pages for me to understand its depth. I would have loved to have seen more of them interacting, especially during class. Rory talks about what a wacky and fun family she has and how she is kind of the same way, and how back home she was well-known at her school. But aside from a really good line here and there, I didn't see a lot of personality from her to back this up.

The upside is that there are a lot of other interesting characters that fill in for the MC. The Ripper, for one, is a nice piece of work. Boo and Alistair are two other shining examples. The book is also full of humor from many of the characters, and I found myself continually writing down funny lines as I read them to remember later.

I should also mention that it does get graphic at times, so consider this your warning.

Read this if:
...you want a trip out of the US, you like solving crimes, you don't scare easily, and you think you know your history.

Content Warning
*This section may contain some spoilers about content!*
Highlight between the brackets to reveal the text.
{Graphic depictions of murder victims.}

Pre-order The Name of the Star:
Maureen Johnson:
Website  /  Twitter  /  Blog  /  Ning


  1. I agree with you on so many points! I loved the reason for the title too, but totally felt like the relationship there was a little flat. Alistair was definitely my favourite character!Great review

    The Cait Files

  2. This sounds like a really interesting book. Thank you for such a great review!

  3. Cait: I'm glad you feel the same way! I just think that if we had seen more of the relationship, it would have been easier to accept. Anyway, I'll be on the lookout for your review! :)

    Lissa: It really is. Especially if you like paranormal, or thrillers. It's fantastic.

  4. Great review, I have been keeping my eye on this book and it looks really good.


  5. Ooh I love the cover of this book. Great thorough review.

  6. I've been wanting this one! Can't wait to read it.

  7. and of course you have me wondering what the name of the star means!

  8. I hadn't heard about this one - but I've now added it to my to-read list. Thanks for the heads up!

  9. This sounds like a great book to read in the fall. I will put this on R.I.P. reading list. And I <3 Maureen Johnson. I look forward to checking this one out.


  10. @Juju: Anytime. :)
    @Suzanne: You're welcome!
    @Alexis: I think it looks way cool and creepy! Sadly, the characters on the cover have no relation to the characters in the book. But it's still cool!
    @Flashligh_Reader: Hahaha, read it and find out! :) It's really cool.
    @Alison: I'm glad I could help. :)
    @Jehara: Hahaha! Your R.I.P. list! I like that! :)

  11. I'm thinking about picking this one up! It sounds interesting and I'm glad to hear that the author's done her research well.

  12. I do too! I thought it was so funny when I came across it.


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