the name of the star

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 |

Let’s do a little word problem. Step 1: I loved The Name of the Star. Step 2: The Name of the Star has paranormal elements. Step 3: I usually can’t stand paranormal fiction. Step X*h&3: SYSTEM ERROR. Please restart and try again.

It turns out that if said paranormal is written by Maureen Johnson, I will read it and LIKE IT. Of course, I knew I liked MJ. She’s pure gold on twitter and an A+ funny, intelligent person. I’m very happy to report that her book impressed me as much as her persona. The Name of the Star is a winner.

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.

The Name of the Star is part mystery, part horror, part budding romance, part travel and cultural adventure, and all parts engrossing and wonderful. Rory – funny, self-deprecating Rory – has a great character voice, and is a little crazy in a good way, along with being brave, loyal, and in for more than she ever expected.

The plot is fantastic, in particular because it draws on the real fears and tendencies of that great mob we call humanity. Highlighted themes: reliance on surveillance, the process of denial, mental breakdowns, ostracism, and family connections. The story leaps away from the expected, only to merge back in with normality so seamlessly that you may find yourself looking over your shoulder and inspecting the security cameras, just in case Johnson knows more about ghosts than she’s letting on. Maybe it’s the time of year, but the Jack-the-Ripper storyline is creepy and all sorts of dark and delicious.

Speaking strictly on a superficial level (and I NEVER do that… what?!), I think the UK cover beats the US cover hands down. Comments if you agree/disagree. Also: if you’d like to win a copy (of either version), remember to enter my giveaway! Ends November 1.

The Name of the Star is a do-not-miss is you’ve ever read and liked young adult literature, Maureen Johnson, horror and humor intermingled, or actually just if you’re alive. Guaranteed fun with spooky shenanigans on the side. Also: compulsively readable. Make that a WARNING: you won't be able or want to put the book down.

Recommended for: you. It’s young adult, yes, and it’s reeeeeallly good at what it does.


Passionate Bookworm said...

I knew there was a reason I put this in my TBR list :) thanks for the review. Makes me even more excited to go pick it up!

Laura @ A Jane of All Reads said...

I dunno. I just picked up a copy with the US cover and it's all shiny and the fog looks all creepy and cool.

Glad you enjoyed it. I have high hopes that I'll do the same.

Ryan said...

I've seen this one around, but I'm a little gun shy with YA, so I haven't been too keen to read it. If you like it this much though, I may have to give it a try.

Memory said...

I'm SO TORN between the covers. The North American cover is lovely, with the fog and the sleeping girl and the ghost, but the UK cover is gorgeously atmospheric. I want them both.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I still need to pick this one up!

Shygirl said...

The Name of the Star is wonderful, and I was sceptical to the paranormal bit too, but it just felt like a normal YA with some mystery and excitement thrown in.

I am not a big fan of either cover to be honest, but I am a big fan of more minimalistic covers.

Tales of Whimsy said...

Great review.
I'm considering this one on audio :)

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