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.
Maureen Johnson has quite a following, from her book fans to those who follow her tweets, and I haven't quite had the pleasure of delving into either of those. So, I was one of the (perhaps, perhaps not) few who was drawn to THE NAME OF THE STAR purely from its premise. And it didn't disappoint. This is a light-hearted, easy read that doesn't butcher London, doesn't consist of ghost hunters investigating old houses and jumping out of their skins at creaky doors, and manages to be thoroughly engaging throughout.
Her supporting cast come alive well and truly, and it's indubitable that their strength makes the book what it is. However, saying that, often Johnson fell into stereotypes that she had to work hard to defy. The arch-nemesis as Head Girl, the absent parents, the noble policeman-slash-mentor. The real issue I had was with the villain, whose motives don't quite line up, but whose character as written by Johnson is engaging enough to override that. Oh, and extra points for the fact any kissy-time was either done off the clock or in a casual way, and there were no my one and only for all eternity moments to be seen. In fact, I didn't find it a romance so much as a fool-around in the library stacks.
While there is a cliff-hangery type ending, and the trilogy has been announced, THE NAME OF THE STAR could very well be a standalone. The paranormal aspect to the plot is expertly interwoven with the day-to-day concerns of a teenager, and for a horror nut with some high expectations, I was pleasantly surprised and entertained.
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- contest deadline is October 20, 2011
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