It’s so great when I come across a book that grabs me from the first page. My latest read, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, is one of these books. I loved the voice of the main character, Rory, and I was entranced by the London setting. This book has also provided me with one of my new favorite quotes that adequately sums up what it’s like to converse with a Southerner.
“I come from people who know how to draw things out. Annoy a Southerner, and we will drain away the moments of your life with our slow, detailed replies until you are nothing but a husk of your former self and that much closer to death.”
It’s almost like the author had a camera or microphone planted in every gathering I’ve ever been to in my small, Southern town. I laughed out loud when I read this–all the while picturing several of my family members (who I’ll be seeing in just a few days) who have that special Southern ability to drain the life out of anyone they happen to rope into conversation. (This may explain why I always bring a book to family gatherings. It may be rude and antisocial, but even pretending to be engrossed in a book provides me with a much-needed escape.) (See what I just did there? I provided you with way too much information and drew things out and probably drove some of you away with this unnecessarily detailed paragraph about holiday gatherings with my family. Welcome to the South.)
Anyhoo, The Name of the Star is a thoroughly entertaining–and kind of creepy–read that plays upon fear. It seems that someone is recreating the crimes of Jack the Ripper, and our heroine Rory might be the only one capable of stopping the mysterious murderer…
While her parents are spending a sabbatical year at a university in England, Rory Deveaux, a teenage girl from Louisiana, has decided to spend her senior year of high school at a boarding school in London. She’s never been to boarding school–much less London–and it’s a bit of an adjustment for her. Things are a lot more intense than in America, and they’re about to get even worse. See, her school is in the East End of London, and someone in the area is recreating the murders perpetrated by Jack the Ripper in 1888. The entire area is in a panic, especially because there are no clues as to who might be committing these heinous acts. The cops have no evidence. Security cameras captured the murders, but not the murderer. Everyone is at a loss…until Rory sees someone on the night of one of the murders. Someone no one else saw.
Could the weird guy she saw outside of her dorm be the new Ripper? Why didn’t her roommate Jazza see him? Could this have any connection to the security cameras not being able to see the Ripper? As Rory tries to uncover a mystery without losing her mind, she encounters some disturbing truths along with a strange new ability. Why can she see people no one else can see? Does anyone around her share this ability? And can she use it to find out who the Ripper is and stop him before she’s his next victim? Enter the shady world of London to reveal the truth in The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.
If you want a funny yet creepy read that will leave you wanting more–but still kind of scared to turn the next page–then The Name of the Star is the book for you. I read it during two extremely gloomy days here in South Carolina. The weather outside matched the setting and tone of this book perfectly, and I refused to answer unexpected knocks at the door while I was reading. I will admit that I was terrified that someone was at the door to kill me. (I tend to get a little involved in books I read, and I am aware that a potential murderer would probably not knock. I found out a little while ago that it was my grandmother who was at my door. Oops.)
If you’re interested in The Name of the Star or any other books by Maureen Johnson, you should visit her website at http://www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com/index1.html. I’ll go ahead and let you know that The Name of the Star is the first book in The Shades of London series. The second book, The Madness Underneath, is expected to be released in October 2012. Based on how the first book ended, we can look forward to even more mysteries to solve in the second.