The Name of the Star

The Name of the Star

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The Name of the Star
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Age Range
12+
Release Date
September 27, 2011
ISBN
978-0399256608
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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.

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2 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.5
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4.5  (2)
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4.5  (2)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0

Creeptastic and Fantastic!

I picked this book up because I was looking for a creepier book and have heard wonderful things about Maureen Johnson. I could not have been more happy with my pick of this book.

First of all, who is not creeped out by 'Jack by the Ripper'? Seriously. From the first chapter, Ms. Johnson pulls you in and freaks you out. I was freaking out the whole time.

Rory finds herself traveling from Louisiana to London for her senior year of high school. Her parents are not far behind her, but she arrives earlier than them and starts boarding school right away. It's not long before everyone is on high alert due to a "Jack the Ripper" the wannabe lose on the streets killing girls. Except, no one can see the culprit, even with video cameras pointed right at him/her. Are you creeped out yet?

I just thought Ms. Johnson did a wonderful job of conveying the horror of these crimes, the terrified feelings of the Londoners, and giving her readers the creeps!

The characters were well written and believable, and even when the story takes a turn into the supernatural, it was written in a believable way. I won't go into detail because I don't want to give away any spoilers, but my goodness, I could not put this book down. And I just found out there is a sequel! *squee* I will definitely be picking up more books by Maureen Johnson and you should, too!

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(Updated: August 28, 2011)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
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4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0

Intriguing Tale

I have to admit, I didn't expect this story to end up the way it does. Johnson builds up the tension and suspense of what's going on with the murders and how Rory is involved. She does a great job setting the scene with a totally suspenseful opening hook. Then she shows us Rory's world. The reader gets to know her right up to her own involvement in the murders.

Let's say I wasn't too surprised on the revelation but still found myself wanting to know more on what would happen next. Rory is a shade, someone who right before a near death event is able to see the dead. No, this isn't the now cliche I-see-the-dead story. Johnson goes much deeper than that with very satisfying results.

You can tell Johnson did her research on Jack the Ripper as well as the London backdrop. Yes, Rory does attend a boarding school but this isn't the usual boarding school paranormal. The hints and clues on what happens are subtly woven throughout the story. Rory is very believable and likeable. Her relationships with her roomies are real too. One thing I did have a hard time believing had to be the way this one top secret organization took care of spirits. I got a sense they used high fluency objects in order to make the spirit 'disappear'. If this just to make them go away, I'm not sure. I kind of wanted to know more on what happened to them.

Overall though I know I want to read the next book in the series and find out what Rory is going to do with her new found ability. London is well known for being a paranormal target. I'm sure she can bump into some more spirits. And you all know how much I love a good paranormal tale!

Good Points
Intriguing premise
Unique twist on the whole paranormal storyline
Liked the mystery/thrill parts of story
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Everyone Loves A Good Murder Mystery

After finishing this book I feel like I need to go to a tea party!

I'm just playing. Maureen Johnson does a fabulous job on this one. Told from the main character's, Rory, POV and switching to witnesses of the Jack The Ripper crimes and goer involved people this is more of a murder mystery than just a YA novel. Combined with lots of action, humor, mystery, and even some facts about England this makes a quick and easy read.

All Americans will be relieved when the section of England vs. Great Britain vs. United Kingdom comes up. I know I was. And I was even surprised with some slang terms I didn't recognize.

Fault #1:
Fact overload! At some point the third person POVs were kind of wordy and unnecessary. At other times there was too much England history happening.

Fault #2:
There's a MILD cliff-hanger. I wouldn't even consider this a fault except now I'm in a rush to find the next!

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3.0
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Loved the concept, but...

so-so book

Good Points
I was curious about concept, really enjoyed the beginning, but just kind of went bland towards the end. Not what I was expecting.
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2.0
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An Unfortunate Letdown

The story opens on a girl named Aurora (“Rory”) entering a boarding school because her two genius parents decided to do some work-based vacationing in England. She was able to choose any school she wished to go to and she picked a boarding school. Anyone already wondering if Rory has something wrong with her head?

Once she gets there she is completely submerged in the English culture which is vastly different that what she is used to being a deep south American. She slogs her way through the unusual school schedule, mandatory sport (ick), and unfamiliar accents easier than most people would. However, she is met with an unfortunate, near fatal accident which renders her able to see ghosts. A fact that Rory does not come to realize until well into the middle (nearly the end) of the book. I found myself raising a brow at one of her first encounters with a corporeally challenged individual. She meets a boy in her library who doesn't seem to set off the motion sensory lighting as every other living thing seems to do. Hmm. Peculiar, eh, Rory? Not worth questioning?

The romance mentioned in the synopsis comes in the form of a prefect by the name of Jerome. Their romantic scenes left so much to be desired. They would get my hopes up about a strong emotional connection and then Johnson would simply move on to the next chapter. Jerome and Rory’s love scenes most lusty event involved a line of spit extending between their lips as they violently broke apart. Now that’s attractive.

While Rory struggles to come to terms with being able to see people that others can’t, a psychopath is cutting a bloody trail across London in much the same manner as Jack the Ripper from 1888. There is much discussion about the theories behind the mysterious serial killer from the 18th century that was absolutely fascinating. I found myself skipping through Rory’s “I see dead people” issues so I could get to more of the Jack the Ripper discussions that seemed to be plentiful.

Ultimately Rory becomes the focus of the serial killer and must confront him by the end of the book. In a very Scooby Doo like manner the killer seems to lay his entire life history out at Rory’s feet in a way of explaining both his reasoning for the killings and his plans for the future. The killer’s plans, of course, entails Rory’s death. Ruh Roh, Rory. All the while, one of the characters lays dying in the middle of the floor. Always time for a monologue, I suppose.

Unfortunately, the book was lackluster. It was all over the place and aside from the historical references to Jack the Ripper, I just couldn't get into it. The characters were so underdeveloped and confusing that I just couldn't seem to make a connection with them. However, the optimist in me hopes that the second book in the series will improve on the shortcomings I found in the first book.

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Overall rating 
 
4.3
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5.0
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LOVED IT!!!

READ IT, I enjoyed it to the fullest extent can't wait to read the second one.

Good Points
Great character diversity, I loved the way they all meshed together.
The book made my heart race and I was rushing to finish, LOVED LOVED LOVED it!!
Anybody who loves mysteries, murder, the paranormal, and teen fiction should read this book it is GREAT!
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4.0
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A Creepy Intriguing Mystery - Love it!

I won this in a First Reads Giveaway.

I fucking loved this book so much. I liked the characters. They were normal people with their own personality. They weren't made up to be larger than life or totally out there. I wanted to know what went on in their day to day lives and liked them. I liked the build up and really read for the characters so more time to get to know them works for me. As an American Girl who dreams of visiting London for an extended period of time I found the adjusting and facts Rory was learning were great. I loved how the romance was minor and not played up or the main focus of the book. I actually laughed, smiled and smirked a lot during this book, which isn't a common occurrence for me. I liked how the characters were funny. It is dark, gruesome and detailed for the murders and yes, that's a good thing. Not including the reality, the harshness of the Ripper murders would be a huge drawback. I don't like books that sugar coat, overlook or just ignore the brutality of reality when it comes to things like this. Yes, include it. Not because I like reading it, but because it makes me uncomfortable. Because it's suppose to make the reader squirm. I would have been so annoyed with hiding these facts to "protect the children". I love the premise, and how it turned out. The only part I really saw coming was the ghost part but that's a given with the book's blurb. Everything else was unexpected, especially the twist at the end. Holy shit. I think this is book I've been looking for lately. Not only did I love it, but I'm actually anxiously awaiting the sequel to continue the story. I've never read a book by this author before, but I definitely will be reading all of them now.


Also, you sneaky sneaky publisher sending me a flyer about other books like this one. It worked, several of them are now on my to-read list.

I'm hooked and not going to fight it, I'm enjoying it too much.
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More Specific: (Might be spoilers below. I tried to avoid them but I could have slipped so beware) This is my take on some of the negative things people brought up regarding the book to explain why I loved this book and didn't have the same problems with it.


Absent Parents: A lot of YA have an issue with this. In this book, I don't think it's a problem. The parents are absent for a reason. They do call and check in often, becoming more frequent with the murders going on. Rory's parents talk about having her leave during the weekends and then talk about pulling her out of school. They don't take her out of school, not because they don't care. The school, the police and Rory have been assuring all the parents that the kids will be fine at school. I find it disingenuous to say the parents didn't bat an eye at the murders. They certainly did. They called Rory every two hours to check in with her and freaked out over the whole thing. While other kids were pulled out of school, plenty more students stayed in school along with Rory during the Rippergate. I mean are you saying all those parents don't care enough about their kids because they didn't pull them out of school immediately? Pfffft. That's judgmental and just insulting. I think if my little one was the in same situation as Rory, I probably wouldn't have pulled her out of school unless she wanted to leave.

The Mean Overachieving Girl being the Arch-nemesis: I looked at it differently than negative reviewers. It isn't just because she's an overachiever. Rory is studious and her roommate, Jazza is an overachiever too. Charlotte is the mean girl because she and Jazza have history. Rory is friends with Jazza so because of that Charlotte is out. Plus when the incident with Rory wearing her uniform to dinner made her feel worse when she was already nervous and insecure. That wasn't actually Charlotte's fault but she didn't tell Rory to change or wait for her so Rory wasn't feeling very nice to Charlotte. With the addition of clicking in with Jazza, Charlotte is just a girl they don't like and that Jazza definitely has a problem with. I'm sure more of their history will be revealed to understand this dynamic better. If we don't get more information for it to be clearer in the next book, then it's a major failure and drawback for me.

I mean really she isn't made out to be that bad. The most we get is the competition between her and Jazza. Jazz does something stupid and risky to fuck with Charlotte's head and Charlotte dating a guy Jazza broke up with to mess with Jazza. Charlotte didn't even use her powers as perfect to harass the girls. Charlotte didn't even bother checking their room everyday because they are cleanly. Charlotte didn't spread the information around about Jazza and Rory sneaking out. Charlotte did try to be nice to Rory and the worst thing that happens is Rory describing Charlotte and her hair coming and going. Rory finds her annoying because Charlotte talks about Oxford all the time, which Rory has nothing to say on the subject and Charlotte likes field hockey while Rory hates all sports. It's all very minor and high school-y. I wouldn't call her an Arch-nemesis. Charlotte certainly wasn't being bashed for being an overachiever when both Jazza and Rory are as well. I mean really, I don't see any bashing going on at all. Jazza and Charlotte have history, a competition.

I'm rather curious to where this is going to with Charlotte. With Charlotte's brush with death, she could grow into a true Arch-nemesis or the new recruit. If she becomes the new recruit and befriends Rory, Jazza could be left out and become an Arch-nemesis. Or it could go the boring route and they just all become friends.

The Writing: I do agree I can see the author becoming better. It's wasn't particularly amazing but it wasn't bad either. However, it had personality and in some places it was great. I have several places marked for turns of phrases, sentences and descriptions that I liked or loved. At last count I had 10. It was narrated by a young woman and it really read that way. It the parts that weren't narrated by Rory, I didn't see any problem either. Of course, it's possible that I missed things that other readers noticed. I was entirely wrapped up in the characters and story itself too much to pay attention. So if there's issues, it was so minor or so unnoticeable to really matter to someone who's involved in the book. If this makes me a philistine, then oh well, I'm enjoying it. I also found it funny. I usually don't say that about books unless it's a Pratchett. I laughed out loud at several places, smiled at others and smirked a lot.

The Slow Build up & the Villain:
I do see why people complained about the slow build up and such. I found it rather exciting and intriguing. The difference was that I was into the characters. I wanted to know the day to day life they lead. I really liked it and so I didn't find it slow or boring. I liked the characters, just being average people. I found they had personality and were engaging. I also think the build up is important not just for the characters but for the story in general. The build up is for fear. Fear plays a big part in understanding things, like the villain. For people who didn't get why the villain did what he did when he could have just avoided it, it was The Fear. The all encompassing, life breaking people altering fear. I've known that fear. I've lived that with kind of fear for years. I've changed, my actions and my routine has changed even to this day due to that lingering fear.

Of course, he went out to get the very thing, the very people that could destroy him. He couldn't live with the fear of accidentally running into that in a place, in a way he couldn't control. That fear takes all your control, your very life away. It makes sense, but it's not rational. People aren't entirely rational. Also, Boo is the only one in the ghost squad who doesn't want to explode them all away. Jo is still around because of her, not the two guys. The two guys don't care and just explode every ghost they run into. So yeah even if villain didn't cause trouble he might have been eliminated after all, if he ran into those two. Who wants the fear of just walking around minding your own business and then running into the very people who fear and could end you? I totally get it. It's kind of like having a stalker. Besides, it's clear the villain was enjoying his whole plan, murders included. He enjoyed having the power and wants to be unstoppable. He's a serial killer with clear motives.

Good Points
Loved the fully fleshed out, dynamic characters
Delivers on the mystery and suspense
Didn't see the end coming
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Overall rating 
 
4.7
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Creeptastic!

I have always been intrigued by history (I mean my dad was a Social Studies teacher so I kind of HAD to be interested). The fact that this story was full of fascinating tidbits about the real Jack the Ripper was an unequivocal plus for me! This tie to the past took the creep factor up a notch. I don’t think there are enough mysteries in young adult, and this had that mystery thriller feel to it.

I was taken by surprise that there was a paranormal element to the story. For some reason, I had not been expecting it, however, it really added to the story. With the supernatural you know anything can happen, so it set me more on edge, and rightfully so.

I really loved Rory. She was a no nonsense type of girl. She was hilarious, and instead of being embarrassed by where she was from, she embraced it (as well as embellished it in a funny, but not so flattering, way). She didn’t let the so called “cool kids” bother her at all.

The setting, of course, was essential. Since the first Jack the Ripper happened in London, the story wouldn’t have come so alive if the setting were anywhere else. Rory was in a boarding type school, but it didn’t bother me so much. Boarding school settings are, in my opinion, used too often, but it worked in this case. I think one of the main reasons it worked so well was that we got to get out and see a bit of London through the telling of the story. Also, I loved Rory’s roommate Jazza.

If you like a lot of romance in your books, this one might not meet your needs. There was a little bit of romance, but it definitely was not the focus of the story. The romance really wasn’t developed too much, but this is the first in a series, so we will have to see how that plays out.

Overall this was a thrilling read that kept me guessing, and surprised me in a few places. Just like with Maureen Johnson’s Little Blue Envelope books, she takes you on one crazy adventure

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Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
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5.0

Wonderful!

This was my first Maureen Johnson book, and I wasn't sure what to expect.

I loved it.

The plot was great. Rory and her roommates were darling. While I never really connected to the romance, I wasn't sure Rory was into it much, either, aside from being into kissing a cute boy. The descriptions of London, the mystery of the Ripper, and the twists in the plot all had me turning pages as quickly as I could.

I had serial killer nightmares.

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Overall rating 
 
3.0
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4.0
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2.0
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Fun Mystery

So I have concluded that this book would have been a lot better had I not read reviews/synopsis/blogs prior to reading this book. I'm thinking that the plot line and twists would have been a lot more exciting and impacting had I not already known the basic premise. So instead of taking it all in, I'm listening to this audio and dysecting the foreshadowing that I may or may not have picked up on and everything else under the sun.

So the book reminds me a lot of Harry Potter in it's description of the school, and how the school ran, however; I am not from England and may be oblivious...this really might be how schools in England are run, and that is why. I didn't not like this part of the book, I just noticed the similarities. And I'm sure I'm about the millionth person to point this out. So yeah.

That's okay, though. I really enjoyed this book. The idea behind it, the mystery unraveling. It did feel a little bit Scooby-Doo when the villain revealed every detail of his story. Not that I didn't want to know the whens and whys, but it is a teensy bit stereotypical villain-esk character trait to have the entire thing unraveled by the sociopathic assumption that everything is going to happen just as said villain envisioned?! BUT, somehow, from what I know of Maureen Johnson via blog/twitter stalking - this was intended and what would be right for her I think.

I like Rory...a lot. She was just pretty awesome, a risk taker, but she also has a respect for authorities and doing what is right as well. However, her small romance - I'm not sure how I feel about her and Jerome. The relationship seemed very - on the sidelines, or almost non-existent. I wasn't feeling the chemistry at all. I was actually hoping she'd drop him and go after the young hottie police guy who's name is slipping my memory at the moment...but alas I suppose there IS an age difference there, huh? Character relationship between Rory and all of her friends would be something I'd like to see better established in future books, because that sort of fell short in my opinion...which is a bit surprising to me after reading the Blue Envelope Series.

Good Points
Rory
story line
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Overall rating 
 
4.3
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5.0
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4.0
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4.0

Really enjoyed this one

The plot kept me turning the pages! As soon as I finished, I wanted to read the sequel. Unique premise, interesting heroine, and fabulous setting. Great read!

Good Points
Fabulous plot, humor, and setting.
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Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
3.0
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4.0

Definitely lived up to expectations

Except for the whole arriving in London just for the killing spree of the century, Rory's pretty much living the life any Anglophile would die for - living it up in a posh boarding school, a cool roommate, and the possibility of having her head chopped off by the Ripper himself.

Ahem. Yes, I'd take it all except for the last part.

Though I follow her religiously on Twitter, this was the first of Maureen Johnson's books I actually finished (started Suite Scarlett back in senior year, but you know how well that went) and I was absolutely hooked from start to finish. There was a bit of a lag during the whole information dumps about boarding school, but then again I know absolutely nothing about the British education system, so let's take that as a learning experience, shall we?

In any case, there's loads of cool accented words and slang (personal favorite: "I survived November 9th and All I Got was This Bloody T-Shirt"...I'm a future English major, I've got to love irony), rides on the Tube and, of course, Ripper-mania to keep the action going right up to the last page. And even after that, I went through the acknowledgments, admired the nice author photo on the flap, and drummed my fingers against the cover a few times waiting for a sequel to magically appear in my hands.

It didn't. Ah, well, you can't blame a girl for trying.

What I found particularly awesome about the book was how it followed along with the real Ripper's crimes...and believe me, I would know. (To make a long story short, some psychology classes seem to enjoy freaking their students out for life about venturing out at night...oh, and being a female in any major city? Watch out for your neck, my pretty.)

To sum it up for whoever didn't bother to read everything up there:

Anglophile + interested about serial killers (just as long as you're not one) = have a go with The Name of the Star. You won't regret it.

Good Points
Brilliant British details - the slang, the boarding school, the ghosts - as well as an awesome coverage of the real-life background of Jack the Ripper and his gruesome crimes.
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