Book Review: The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1) by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star is the first book in a series by Maureen Johnson. It was published by Harper Collins Children’s Books on 29th September and the book is 252 pages long.
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?

What I thought
I used to be fascinated with Jack the Ripper, which is a little bit morbid for a 13 year old girl, I know. When I heard about this book, I couldn’t have been more excited. It is quite safe to say that I loved this aspect of the book.
The Name of the Star feels very authentic to London and its old, cobbled streets. The whole setting of this book, especially the hard hitting and gruesome beginning is eerie and creepy but it draws you right in. I was hooked after only one 1 page and I have to applaud Maureen Johnson for beginning the first book in a series this way. It made a massive impact on me and it’s now an opening I don’t think I could ever forget. If more books were written like this, I would be a very happy girl.
The mystery in this book is by far the best part of it. I couldn’t wait to find out what was really going on and to find out what the deal was with all of the killings and strange going ons. However, when the twist was finally revealed, I was extremely unsure about it. It seemed pretty insane and I was hoping it had been something else for quite some time. After more and more about it was explained though, I thought it was actually really clever, fresh and exciting.
The main character is not Jack the Ripper at all, like I was thinking it might be. Instead, it is American teenager Rory who has just moved to England. As her parents are working in Bristol, Rory has to attend a private boarding school in London. She’s completely out of place in a country she doesn’t really understand even after trying to. I liked Rory though as she tried to make the best out of her situation. I don’t really know how I would react to moving to London in the middle of a Jack the Ripper-esque killing spree.
Unfortunately, other aspects of the book did not quite do it for me. There were a lot of characters all over the place and this made certain things quite confusing at times. Rory’s romance (if you can call it that) with Jerome was seriously un-needed. Fair enough that the YA audience like this in a book but at least make it integral to the rest of the plot. For me, their relationship was only about kissing and it had nothing to do with anything else at all. I think the time spent in this area of the book would have been better spent focusing on the twist and the other things that were going on.
I know my review sounds like a real mixed bag for this book but I really did enjoy it. It is a fantastic thriller full of mystery but as a series, I wonder where it can possibly go next. 

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1) by Maureen Johnson

  1. I keep meaning to read this, but I've seen other reviews like yours that aren't exactly in love with the characterization, so I keep putting it off. Maybe one of these days!


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