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The Name of the Star [Hardcover]

Maureen Johnson
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 4 2011 The Shades of London (Book 1)
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 in the autumn of 1888.

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 now believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was 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.


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Review

"A gorgeously written, chilling, atmospheric thriller. The streets of London have never been so sinister or so romantic." Cassandra Clare, author of THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS Praise for 13 Little Blue Envelopes "Equal parts poignant, funny and inspiring, with a delicious fairytale ending." Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Johnson's writing is sophisticated and humorous, her characterisations pitch perfect." Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Maureen Johnson (www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com) is the author of seven young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Let It Snow. She lives in New York City.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good!! Something for everyone April 5 2013
Format:Paperback
Originally posted on [...]

The Name of the Star written by Maureen Johnson, and originally published in September 2011 by Putnam Juvenile.
This is the first book in the Shade of London Trilogy, and this is the first full length book by Maureen Johnson that I have read (I read Let it Snow which she co-wrote with John Green and Lauren Myracle). I have been admiring this book in the bookstore for a while now, but I waited until it was in paperback to buy it, and then it promptly sat on my bookshelf for a long time. The reason that I picked it up this month is because I saw the audio book at the library and I really like to listen to the audio book while reading the actual book. So going into this book the only thing that I knew about it was that it was about Jack the Ripper, and that was enough to sell me on it.
I think like a lot of people I thought that the book was going to be historical fiction, and that I would be transported back to the 1800s to the scenes of the Jack the Ripper murders; especially after seeing the original North American Hardcover for the book. However, I was mistaken, and this is actually a modern novel that takes place in 21st century London with someone mimicking the murders of Jack the Ripper.
The story follows Aurora “Rory” Deveaux a Southern girl from Louisiana who decides to spend a year at a boarding school in London. It’s definitely going to be an adjustment for Rory because she has a very taxing schedule which includes early morning Saturday classes and Field hockey practices. The day she arrives at her new school Wexford coincides with the first in a series of brutal murders. This murder recreates the first of Jack the Rippers canonical murders which took place in 1888.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story, so-so characters March 4 2012
By Sofie TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
First of all, here is a warning: You will be *dying* to go to London after reading this book. Maureen Johnson truly gives us a very vivid image of that amazing city, and I have always wanted to go there so that's why I read so many books that are set in London.

The story is extremely gripping, well-paced, and relatively original among the other thousand-or-so Jack the Ripper novels. Because this serial killer is so famous, it's hard to create a story about him that is unique, original, and won't bore the reader. Well The Name of the Star isn't anything special, exactly, but it is still a great read which I devoured in two days. My main problem is that I didn't like Rory. Wait, it's not that I didn't like her, it's just that she is the kind of character that appears on thousands of teen novels. By this I mean that she isn't anything special at all, and can come across as a bit boring and bland (but not nearly boring and bland as her sort-of love interest, Jerome.) Seriously, Jerome is so incredibly dull and I knew the romance wouldn't be very good because Maureen Johnson (no offense to her) can write a great story but she sucks at the romance aspects. Rory and Jerome are a dull couple, although they seem to have a more FWB (just kissing) relationship than actual feelings. The other characters - Callum, Stephen, Boo, and Jazza - are perfectly okay but they are NOTHING SPECIAL, just like Rory. But you can't not like Rory because she is very nice and brave, and is not depicted as having any faults.

While the characters disappointed me, the story did not.

SPOILER WARNINGS

1. The way that Rory almost died was really weird, anti-climatic, and made the whole situation seem more comedic than suspenseful and cool
2.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Starstruck for Maureen Johnson Dec 3 2011
Format:Hardcover
Jack the Ripper, English boarding school, ghosts, teen detective squads. This is enough information to pique my interest, but I was skeptical that it would come together until the name Maureen Johnson was attached. Now I am on board.

Rory Deveaux moves from rural Louisiana to London to start a new life at a British boarding school. There she makes friends with sweet but straight-edge Jazza and a curly-haired boy named Jerome (Ah, those curly-haired boys!) School is difficult but stimulating and Rory is loving her new London life until a series of copy-cat murders, modeled after the gruesome work of Jack the Ripper, turn London upside down. Being invincible teens, Jazza and Rory find themselves sneaking about on the night of one of the murders and Rory sees a man who turns out to be the only suspect in the case. The problem is that Jazza can't see him.

This is the second book I've read this season featuring teen ghost detectives. Is this a new and unexpected trend in YA lit? It is definitely new territory for Johnson, who is well-known (and well-loved) for her funny contemporary girl books (Girl at Sea, Suite Scarlett, 13 Little Blue Envelopes). Rory's narrative, the fantastic supporting cast and the dash of romance is classic Johnson. The supernatural twist is new but very welcome!
While parts of the story are frightening and even violent, it's clear that Johnson has not set out to spook her reader. At the heart of the novel is the story of the teens who are members of The Shades, which is the name of the secret police force who solve crime by communicating with ghosts. She spends a lot of time fleshing out (obviously not literally) the ghosts and their pasts, turning them into real, complicated characters.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  249 reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 100% fun with a creepy edge! Sept. 29 2011
By Jessica Dennis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
What a fun book to read! The main character, Rory's parents move to England for business and she decides to attend a private boarding school- to get the whole "English" experience. Shortly after moving in, bonding with her roommate, crushing on a guy, and secretly despising the resident "perfect" girl- tragedy hits London. Someone is murdering people in the same fashion and on the same days that Jack the Ripper struck years ago. Unfortunately, Rory is an eye witness to one of the murders and becomes part of the investigation. I can't say anything more about the subject because I don't want to give anything away. I can tell you, however that Rory is a character. She has a crazy family that she talks about unabashedly, sharp wit that made me laugh out loud, and loyalty to her friends. This is a great book for young adults and for the young at heart- just be prepared to read it from cover to cover. I can't wait for the next book in this series.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A creepy mystery with an awesome setting and excellent humor! Sept. 29 2011
By The Compulsive Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
When her parents move to England her senior year, Rory Devereaux agrees to go with them, as long as she can attend boarding school in London. The school and the people in it are a far cry from her tiny southern hometown, not far from New Orleans, but Rory likes her new roommate and is enjoying her school (well, except for maybe the field hockey part). Then, a murder is committed near the school, an exact replica of the first of the Jack the Ripper murders. And none of the security cameras in the area ever caught a glimpse of the killer. It doesn't take long for everyone in London to realize that there is a Ripper copycat on the loose, throwing the entire city into mayhem. Rory thinks that she's safe from it all, despite her proximity to the murder scenes, but when she is questioned by a secret branch of the London police, Rory finds that she is a lot closer to the real killer than she thought.

Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star is a fascinating and unique book! It is a bit different from her earlier, humor-driven work, but the writing is just as good as ever, and while the book isn't necessary serious, the mystery of the brutal deaths and the threat to Rory does have a bit of a sobering effect. That being said, there is still a lot of great humor in The Name of the Star, and some fantastic, quirky characters that entertain to no end. Rory is an excellent narrator--she's hardworking, funny, loyal, and when the going gets tough, she's a pretty noble person, even if the circumstances terrify her. The boarding school setting is a great one, with lots of fun and drama, and it's the perfect location for the Rippermania to take place. You'll learn a lot about London and the history of the Jack the Ripper murders throughout this book, and the combination of real facts and places with the special, secret police force Rory becomes involved in (which is a bit reminiscent of the early episodes of the TV show Torchwood) makes this book hard to put down. The Name of the Star is an intriguing, creepy mystery with an awesome setting and a great cast of characters. If the only complaint about it is the cruel cliffhanger of an ending, then you definitely need to pick this one up!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ominous and atmospheric Jack the ripper tale with the perfect ending March 5 2013
By Christina (Ensconced in Lit) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've had this book on my to read list for quite some time. I'm glad that I got around to reading it. I'm giving it 4.5 stars.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson stars Rory, a teen from Louisiana, who goes to London to attend school. She is quickly met with headlines proclaiming there is a new Jack the Ripper serial killer on the loose. While Rory is trying to maneuver living with a roommate and crushing on a cute guy who also is obsessed with Jack, the killer seems to be aware of her in a scary way. Things get a bit more paranormal, but I'll let the reader discover that for themselves.

I really enjoyed the writing of this book. The setting and mood were very London-ish and the book was well researched. I loved Rory and her crazy family back in Louisiana, and I enjoyed getting to know some of the supporting cast, which I won't go into as to not spoil any readers.

I agree with some of the other reviewers that in the middle it seems to stagnate a bit, and I thought this a solid four star novel for a while. Not to mention, the romance seemed pretty lackluster. But with a paranormal plot twist, and a terrific ending-- the only way it could have ended--I was impressed enough to give it another half star.

I believe Johnson is just getting started and is a promising new writer, and I'll definitely be picking up the next installment.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gone with the Words review... Nov. 14 2011
By Jess - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
(This review was originally posted at GoneWithTheWords.com)

Was going to a British boarding school ever one of your dreams? If, like me, your answer is yes, then you're really going to enjoy the setting of this book. Not only is this boarding school co-ed, it's also in London, and the history of the building itself is super interesting. You get a lot of insight into how the school system works in England. It's really rigorous! Still, I would've loved to have gone to school there! Minus the murdering suspect, of course.

The crime spree is pretty gruesome, and the spectacle created by the media and the public was really believable. However, I did not find myself on the edge of my seat until things started happening to our protagonist. Once that happened, I was just as scared as her! One thing I loved was how funny Rory was at times, and also the smart, funny banter between her and her roommate and The Boy. There are some really cute flirty moments. I loved how Maureen described kissing in this excerpt:

"Kissing is something that makes up for a lot of the other crap you have to put up with in school, and as a teenager in general. It can be confusing and weird and awkward, but sometimes it just makes you melt and forget everything that is going on. You could be in a burning building or a bus about to fall off a cliff. It doesn't matter, because you are just a puddle." - pg. 282

So you read that part about the secret ghost police in the synopsis, right? I must confess, after they're introduced, I kept singing "Who you gonna call? GhostBusters!" in my head. Not that anything in the book directly relates to GhostBusters...well, except maybe the ghost busting part. Don't get me wrong! I dug it!! I liked the history and they way they become ghost police, it was just inevitable for me to not relate the two. This group takes care of one another under some dire circumstances sometimes . Here's another quote from the book where I loved how Maureen described bravery:

"It's not that I'm extremely brave--I think I just forgot myself for a minute. Maybe that's what bravery is. You forget you're in trouble when you see someone else in danger. Or maybe there is a limit to how afraid you can get, and I'd hit it." - pg. 307

Although I liked this book from the start, I wasn't completely sucked in until after halfway through, I would say. The ending was suspenseful and it left off on a very intriguing discovery!! I ended up really liking these characters and therefore I will definitely be looking forward to the next book in this series.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Give me more! Jan. 24 2014
By Nicole @ Paperback Princess - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
What a wonderful, interesting story with plenty of twists and turns and surprises along the way. I got this book when I went to BEA12 and I got a paperback copy signed when I went to NYCC12. I wound up giving my hardcover copy to my sisters library while I get to keep my signed copy. Fun stuff. Regardless, I loved being able to dig into this book because wow. As a historian I can appreciate the Jack the Ripper story line, and besides, who doesn’t love a good gruesome murder? Of all the things I wish my college had a class on, I would wish it was Jack the Ripper because there is so much un known about the person that committed these crimes.

I could tell you so much about Jack the Ripper because a girlfriend of my wanted to study all about him/her and their crimes against women. Whats most fascinating is that there is speculation that Jack the Ripper was actually Jackie the Ripper, and while it’s horrible that these murders could have been committed by a female, it’s really, really interesting. But I digress.

I really felt that these characters in this book were special and fabulous, and the plot as well was really great. As we learned more about Rory, I found that I loved her and her southern roots, especially when she decided to draw out a conversation the way that only southern people can. I also liked that it was a nickname Rory being short for Aurora because there was nothing about her that screamed Disney princess. While she wasn’t a tough guy, she also wasn’t soft. (I would say soft as a southern bell, but you get on the bad side of a southern beauty queen or any southern gal, and man, you will have a vicious Hellcat on your hands.)

I liked that there was some romance in this book and that it didn’t really distract from the Ripper plotline. I do feel like there is the potential for a pesky triangle, but we’ll see where the second book goes with that one. I felt that each of the characters were unique and fun with their clever nicknames like Jazza and Boo, and that they weren’t just the same cookie cutter witty character, some were competitive and blunt others were really sweet and funny, all of them were different which was great.

I found that the whole Shades plot was really clever and interesting. The way that a near death experience could allow you to go all Macaulay Culkin. I liked learning about the near death experiences of the squad, and I’m interested to see how their various experiences will bring them together. At first when I got this book, I wasn’t sure how we were going to be getting a whole second book, but now, having read it, I totally understand and I can’t wait for book 2.

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