Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Maureen Johnson - The Name of the Star - Book Review

book cover of 

The Name of the Star 

 (Shades of London , book 1)

by

Maureen Johnson
                                          

  • Pages - 370
  • Publisher - HarperCollins
  • Date 29 Sep 2011
  • Age 13+
  • Isbn - 978 0 00 739863 8

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.


On first receiving this book, initial indications suggested that this was not my type of book. Normally I would not read or certainly want to read a 'paranormal romance' with a young female teenage as the lead protagonist. The book cover certainly suggested that this book was aimed at the female audience, and as a result, did nothing for me as a male reader. In fact, the only reason that I read this book was the link that it had to the 'ripper' - the main theme of this book.


Therefore, I was intrigued to see how this book was going to unravel. I think it would be fair to say that right from the very start the book did indeed have a 'girly' touch to it. However,  I soon overcame this factor the more that I read the story. 


The particularly chilling aspect of this book involves the killings of innocent victims - all based around the copy cat killings of 'Jack the Ripper'. Going around London brutally killing his victims the storyline was chilling, but yet gripping. 


At the midway point of the story, a twist in the tale focused the plot and gripped me to the very end of the book. The twist was a total surprise and as a result, the story took on a whole new meaning. The turn of events created a more serious element than I expected - the tension left me on tender hooks right until the very end.


The author has obviously undertaken extensive research in order to put real historical elements into this story through the places that have been chosen, the portrayal of the victims and the inclusion of gruesome facts. As a result, the story takes on a particularly realistic feel and adds a modern day 'Ghostbusters' feel to the story. 


I'm actually glad that I have read this book. I did find some of the 'girly' characters a little annoying, but nevertheless the story was a real atmospheric thriller. Dripping with many spine tingling moments right through to the very end. 


This is the first book in the series entitled 'Shades of London'. Many more books have yet to be further published. Will I read the next one in the series? Well, you'll have to watch this space.....


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