Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

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Genre: Young-Adult, Paranormal, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 372
Series: Shades of London #1 (At least 3 more books in the series)
Release Date: September 1, 2011 

Star

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Going in, here’s what I hoped for/wanted: A serial killer, a likable protagonist, an engaging story, some fun, and weirdness. That may seem a lot to hope for from an author I’ve never read anything by before, but I followed Maureen Johnson on Twitter for a while and she’s fun and very weird (see: dancing carrot vine), so I feel justified in having some expectation. And the book lived up to those expectations.

It follows Rory Deveaux, an American teenager who’s to spend her senior year in a boarding school in London. On her move there, she hears of a series of murders happening very close to her school; it seems that someone is imitating Jack the Ripper. Rory spots a man who becomes the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him – the only one who can see him. Because he’s a… wait for it… ghost! (I’ve been binging Barney Stinson videos on YouTube.)

Now, going back to the hopes-slash-expectations; I got my serial killer, a very awesome at that. And he was kinda psychotic too, which was a bonus.

The protagonist was very likable. She wasn’t the not-like-other-girls type. She felt like a very ordinary teenager who was in an unfamiliar setting. She wasn’t immediately loved by all, she didn’t immediately attract the attention of the hottest guy in school and get a romantic rival. She was just another student, albeit one from a different continent. And that, the normalcy of boarding school life, the lack of clichés, it both surprised and pleased me.

What really made Rory likable is that she’s a funny girl, she’s nice, smart, friendly, a tad awkward, and very relatable. And her narrative was great. Which I have the author to thank for, I guess. The combination of the entertaining narrative, the slightly eerie prose, and the fast pace made the novel for me. And since I can’t seem to come up with much else review-y stuff, I’m going to finish with a few of the lines I’ve highlighted (on my phone. I don’t highlight physical copies. That’s criminal):

Good and quirky prose:

The cell phone took flight, a little glowing ball of light, free at last before it clattered to the sidewalk and went out.

Relatable Rory:

What if I was a freak and had never realized it? What if I did weird things in my sleep?

Funny dialogue:

“there is really no such thing as period fever. There’s difference between being a guy and being an idiot.”

And while I was going through the highlights, I remembered one last thing: the romance. There is one but it’s very casual and it’s presented in the casual way. The author never leads us on, making us ship two people who wouldn’t end up together. She presented things as they were, a fling, and that saved a lot of unnecessary angst. There is a main love interest for the series but I’m not sure who that is. I have a guess or two. Interested to see where that will go. And where the ending will go! Because something happened at the end, and if that means what I think it does, things just got a whole lot more interesting.

Overall, I really like this book and I highly recommend it. Fingers crossed for the rest of the series!

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