Saturday, March 7, 2015

Tea Time: The Name of the Star

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**

The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1), Maureen Johnson

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. (source:goodreads)

Narrative-This book is told from the first-person POV of Aurora "Rory" Deveaux, and really the only thing I have to say about it is that the voice should have annoyed me. The further I read, I kept thinking, "why am I not annoyed?" and the answer is because Rory's voice is sweet, and sarcastic, and blunt, and genuine, and she reminds me of me. She secretly judges people, points out situations where she's acting American among all of her new British friends (remember, she's in London), and really just tells the world like it is. And I loved it. It's addicting, and reading the book made me feel like there was actually somebody telling me a story in a casual conversation. It kept the tone light in all the right places, which made the effects of the darker points in the book hit me that much harder.

Plot-Basically, Rory goes to London for her senior year of high school, and manages to arrive the day after the first "Ripper" victim is murdered. It's not long before she realizes that she can also sees ghosts (after a near-death experience), and that the ghost is the prime suspect, and she's under protection by a secret ghost police.

Creepy, right? It's totally fantastic. The pacing was great, giving the book a nice balance between normal-life Rory and Rory-involved-with-ghost-police life, while giving the same backdrop of fear and panic in London society. The mystery spans the entire length of the book: the very first pages introduce the reader to the murders, and I think it was pretty fantastic that Rory didn't get directly involved with the Ripper or the murders until the third or fourth of the victims was killed. However, don't let that statement of mine fool you into thinking that nothing happens in the first half: plenty happens. There's always something happening: giving you information on Jack the Ripper (the original murders as they're compared to the contemporary ones), letting Rory adjust to London-school-life, meeting a cast of unforgettable characters that grab you by your heartstrings.

I find there's a difficult line that authors have to toy with when they introduce a character to a world that is completely new-in this case, it's Rory and the secret ghost police. The biggest issue is dropping information so the reader and character alike are familiar enough with the "rules" so they don't get confused; I'm also incredibly picky, too, because this is where dangers of info-dumps come in. This was another thing that was done extremely well, worked into the plot so everything came on a need-to-know basis. Just thought I should mention it, because there was no boring "here's everything you need to know" scene; it all came slowly enough that the reader has time to process it, while also getting to know the characters and still moving along with the plot.

It's very easy to get lost in the happenings of this book, simply because there's always something happening. And it's suspenseful. You like suspense, right?


Characters-There would be absolutely no better way for me to start talking characters than to start with Rory, Jazza, and Boo: all three of them are roommates at this London school, and not all three of them are normal. Rory, the main character, I've already described: funny, blunt, slightly judgmental, but overall an easy person to get along with and like. Jazza's a perfect sweetheart, and my spirit animal: she's quiet, studious, will go out occasionally if her roommate begs her, completely caring. Boo? Well, Boo's a bit of a mess, but you really can't help but love her (plus, she's a part of the secret ghost police, and she's Rory's personal bodyguard. How cool is that?). Boo, in particular, catches my eye because of her eagerness of be helpful, toward humans and ghosts alike, and even if she occasionally gets on Jazza'a nerves, I can't help but enjoy whenever she's around.

Stephen and Callum are two other members of the secret ghost police, and they're extremely complex; I'd wager that they're even more complex than Boo is. The thing is, in order to see ghosts you had to have gone through a near-death experience: both of the boys are haunted by theirs. One of them slightly hates ghosts, and the other is still highly affected by his attempt at suicide. In one case a ghost tried killing them, and in the other a ghost saved his life. And, now, they're trying to take down the bad ghosts together, since they don't really belong anywhere else.

The Ripper is worth mentioning because, well, he's the one killing everyone. And he has an incredibly complex past, as well, which is what I loved about him. Particularly: his reasons for killing, for copying the original Jack the Ripper murders. He can be both incredibly calm at times, and at others completely terrifying. All in all, he's a wonderful villain.


Final Answer: 4.66 / 5 stars

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A little mystery, lots of murder. Plus ghosts. Blogger @Rae_Slater reviews THE NAME OF THE STAR @maureenjohnson (Click to Tweet)

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