The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

March 12, 2012
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In this unforgettable book, Maureen Johnson creates a plot like no other. First, Rory Deveaux moves to a London boarding school. Then she realizes that a series of horrifying murders that have been occurring in the city are all in a radius of a couple of miles. There is something even more unusual about this string
of bloody deaths. The serial killer is mimicking the style of Jack the Ripper, who terrorized London in 1888 in a similar fashion. The modern-day murderer is going to lots of trouble to get the details down to the same place on the same month and date. “Rippermania” becomes the “thing” to chat in fear about. Rory and Jerome, the boy that she likes, are acting a little too brave, visiting the murder crime scenes, trying to get ahead of the police, figuring out who the “new” Jack the Ripper is and Johnson definitely gets you wondering, “Is this really possible?” You, too, become part of the adventure.

Knowing previous books that Johnson has written, I was a little unsure at first about this one. Unbelievably girly covers and shockingly candy-coated plot summaries were her style before The Name of the Star. But I took a leap, trusted Johnson, and hoped that this book was different from the others. I love high-action, edge-of-your-seat books, and this one filled those expectations, as well as giving me a fun, brief history of what people do know about the real Jack the Ripper. No page was boring.

A week prior to starting The Name of the Star, my brother rented a Sherlock Holmes themed movie after watching, and loving, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, which I also thought was a spectacular movie. This second film had a plot based on the actual Jack the Ripper of 1888. This is when I started to become more anxious to find out who this horrifying man really was. The Name of the Star finished my Jack the Ripper phases because it was so satisfying. I didn’t want any other story to change how I saw him. Even if you have no interest in the subject of Jack the Ripper, I advise you to give it a try.

So many wonderful aspects of this book made it a favorite. First, the setting and plot build up. I liked how the prologue is short and Johnson stuffs the problem into two well-written pages, which gives the book a fast-paced effect and sets the tone for the rest of the novel. I think this is hard and takes a lot of work. Good job, Johnson.

I also enjoyed the map of London at the beginning of the book. Sometimes a map is included in a cheesy fantasy novel, but this one gave me a sense of place and also set me up for the geography of the buildings, places, and crime scenes. Having visited London myself, it was interesting to see how close I’d been to all the murders scenes of 1888. It gave me a thrill to connect the plot to a personal experience.

I recommend this book to anybody who is looking for suspense, mystery, and a fabulous ending.

Publisher: Penguin, 372 pages

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Midnight5765 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 2, 2014 at 2:48 pm
I only have good things to say about this series! The plot was well written and I felt disappointed once I finished it. If you don't know, there wil be 4 books in the series and the third should come out in March of 2014. I hope you'll write more review from her :)
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