Saturday, January 14, 2012

Book Review: The Name of The Star, Shades of London Book One by Maureen Johnson

It is difficult to find a book in young adult fiction that is not enhanced by a theme of ghosts, vampires, werewolves, special sensory talents, or sorcery. These themes seem to be the tantalizing bite (no pun intended) that lures readers in to young adult fiction. I'm not as swept up in this, may I call it a faze, as other readers are. When I was a teen, Stephen King, was well, king of the horror books and movies. I read a few of his books, until I was scared silly. Now, I gravitate toward history and biographies, and The Name Of The Star grabbed my attention as it has a Jack the Ripper theme. When I was in London in the fall of 2001 I took part in a Jack the Ripper walking tour, it was quite interesting. I love history, especially British history. I'd waited a while for this book to be available for me to check out from the library, I instead bought a copy.
The story is centered on Aurora or Rory. The time period is our current era. Rory is 17, and has recently moved from Louisiana to London to spend her last year of high school in a boarding school named Wexford. Wexford is located in the east end of London, near the areas where Jack the Ripper during the 1800's brutally and savagely murdered women. Rory is a chatty girl, easy to like, comical, bright, brave, and wise. She is quick to make friends with her room mate. She settles in to a change in the structured environment at boarding school, as well as academic classes she takes, and a dreaded physical education class. The day she arrived in London was the day the first modern day London copy-cat murder took place. A murder uncannily reminiscent of Jack the Ripper murder's.

This is a well-written book. I can understand why I'd heard good things about it. I enjoyed reading it, it was an absorbing read, hard to put down. The characters are easy to relate to, they are realistic in that we see both good and bad sides of their persona. There is light-hardheartedness in that the seriousness of the story is off-set by Rory's comical trait. Rory is an admirable character. She does not have a defiant behavior; but is rather grounded and serious about her grades and current life choices. Her parents are minimal and way in the back-drop of this story. The focus is on Rory and the gradual revealing of how she too will become involved in the copy-cat murders.

Link @ Amazon:
Hardcover $11.55
Kindle $10.99

I bought my copy at Target, hardcover for $10.98

Link @ publisher:,,9780399256608,00.html?The_Name_of_the_Star_Maureen_Johnson#

Published by Putnam Juvenile September 2011
384 pages
For ages 12 and up/Young Adult Fiction

Blissful Reading!

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