Monday, November 28, 2011

The Name of the Star

The Name of the Star
By: Maureen Johnson
Release Date: September 29, 2011
This Sister Says: Mysterious, Mind-blowing, & Marvelous

Summary from 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 in the autumn of 1888. 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 now believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was 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.

Before I even read the first page I was 90% sure that I was going to love this book. For one thing, it takes place in London, which is one of my all-time favorite settings, secondly it has Jack the friggin’ Ripper (well a copycat, but still!) as a major plotline, and lastly there are “ghost police” and where there are ghost police there most certainly will be ghosts, which are quickly becoming one of my favorite paranormal subjects to read about. So I went into this book with high expectations (which is dangerous if you’ve never read anything else by that author before, which I haven’t) and I am so happy that I was not let down! With this novel, Maureen Johnson has created a story brimming with wittiness, suspense, and historical accuracy that had me laughing, biting my nails and falling in love with some very well-developed characters that I very much wish were real so that I could be their friend.

I love an author that does her research and is able to incorporate some knowledge into the book without making us feel overwhelmed by it all or feeling like she’s stopping the story to educate us. It follows that quote, “I love to learn but I do not always like to be taught.” But through this book I learned so much about the history of Jack the Ripper and the women that were his victims while simultaneously getting a fantastic story along with it! It is so refreshing when an author gets her facts correct (unlike some… I’m looking at you Stephenie Meyer) and hopefully it helps other aspiring YA authors know that it is ok (more than ok, it is highly encouraged!) to integrate real, intelligent subject matter as long as it doesn’t hinder or get in the way of the story.

There was a lot to love about this book. Its story line was original and gripped you from the first page (for me I was sold just by reading the synopsis) and I loved and found all of the characters very relatable, especially Jazza, who is just a sweetheart and such a good friend to Rory during her times of need. Because the first half of the book mainly focuses on Rory and these new boarding school relationships she's making, and the second half focuses more on the action and drama, we relly got to delve into these characters, which I just loved. I have many friends who are Jazza-esque and I very much enjoyed seeing her and Rory’s friendship bloom. And Boo. You gotta love Boo. For some reason I pictured her as a young Kelly Kapoor from The Office. She made me laugh and I just loved her quirkiness and her heart so much. I found some reviews of people claiming that the “beautiful, popular, mean little rich girl” character has been beaten to death and that they were upset that Johnson had this stock character in the novel. I realize that it’s a typical character in a lot of YA, but that is because it’s relatable. I certainly had girls like that at my school, did you? And I may be wrong, but I feel there is more to this character than meets the eye and I look forward to reading the next book of the series for many reasons, but mostly just so I can see how these characters grow.

I also loved seeing the novel shift perspective from time to time. Especially with the news reporter who saw this macabre situation as his “big break.” I just feel that seeing what other people are going through during a story helps add to the connectivity to it. Sometimes I get so caught up with what the protagonist is going through and dealing with that I don’t really consider the other characters, but when the perspective shifts I’m forced to. I also thought he ending to The Name of the Star was phenomenal. Not to clean cut, but also not to cliff-hangery and left me with just the perfect amount of satisfaction for the story that just ended but also wanting more of Rory and her journey.

The one thing about this book that I think some people won’t like is that there isn’t much romance. But I actually really liked that about this book. This book is the first in a series and I’m glad the author’s taking it slow and really letting the characters get to know one another, which is something we don’t often see in YA. Usually the main character already has her close friends and then is immediately attracted to/annoyed by the hunka-hunka burning love. But Rory had to start forming all of these relationships from scratch, and we’re right there with her, so I love how we’re getting a more realistic look at how a love begins and the complications that come with it.

If you’re still on the fence about this book, get off of it and go to your nearest bookstore and purchase it! It will not disappoint you. It’s definitely a book that is not to be missed and I hope you all get the opportunity to read it!