First Impressions: I've always been fascinated by the events surrounding a string of murders and the man known as Jack the Ripper. I've researched Jack the Ripper so I know a bit about the facts and the historical events surrounding the late 1800's. When I found out that another Young Adult writer was coming out with a ripper story, I knew I needed to read it. Jack the Ripper and the murders in London are probably one of the best unsolved murder mysteries ever and I wish I knew what really happened back then. The world will probably never know for sure, and books like these help to spark the imagination.
First 50 Pages: I loved the mood and the setting of this story. It has a dark feel, very menacing and eerie. It was super creepy considering that I was reading Ripper at night. Despite that, I felt like the book started out a little bit slow, the characters were a tad one-dimensional, and the paranormal aspect didn't seem to fit with the rest of the story. I'll just say right now that this isn't my favorite Jack the Ripper book that has come out recently. I adored, "The Name of the Star" by Maureen Johnson, which also has a paranormal flavor, but it flowed with her story much better.
Characters & Plot: The plot surrounds Abbie whose parents have passed away and she lives in London with her grandmother at a very large estate. Abbie's grandmother doesn't quite understand her; she is very stubborn and not as well-mannered and refined as she would like. After a certain event, Abbie's grandmother has her friend, Dr. Bartlett, agree to have Abbie assist him at the Whitechapel Hospital which caters to poor women and prostitutes. Her grandmother doesn't think that Abbie will be able to handle the work, but it just so happens that Abbie has a natural gift when it comes to care-taking and she loves her position. A few weeks into her new job, Abbie begins to have strange nightmares of prostitutes that coincide with actual murders that are occurring throughout the city. Abbie then realized she is having psychic visions and vows to stop the murders from occurring at all costs; even it puts her own life in danger.
What I did really love about Ripper is how the author managed to stay true to the historical facts. I can't say that I am an expert, but I do know a little bit about what had happened. The author throws in true events, facts, and places into her own Ripper story, which is what caught my attention the most. When the story stayed true to the original Jack the Ripper crimes, it was great. When the author threw in the paranormal stuff, the book seemed to fall apart. I know that doing the paranormal thing is huge right now, but I think I would have liked to have seen this book stay true to the actual events and it would have been a better book had the author done that. There were also some minor dialog issues that at times felt too contemporary for the time period.
There was also a bit of romance between Abbie and two young doctors that she worked with at the hospital, but it wasn't a huge part of the overall storyline and I didn't really care which guy she decided to go with. I actually had a hard time being able to connect to many of the characters because they felt a little bit flat to me, which made it hard to be sad when some of the characters were killed off.
Final Thoughts: This wasn't a terrible book, but it wasn't the best Jack the Ripper spin that I have ever read and I do feel a little bit let down because it sounded so good in the synopsis. Perhaps my expectations were too high of this one. It did have a good setting and level of suspense that kept me interested and reading, but I think that the paranormal aspect could have been dropped. I'm just not sure that Ripper had anything new to offer when compared to books like The Name of the Star. I would hesitantly suggest this book to Jack the Ripper enthusiasts or to people who enjoy a good mystery plot.