Monday, October 29, 2012

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star (Shades of London, #1)The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Name of the Star was a hit with me.  Maureen Johnson got my attention as an author with her short story, "The Law of Suspects." It was utterly chilling and fantastic suspense. I appreciated how she writes with a respect for the intelligence of her readership, even though they are the YA audience. Like CS Lewis, I believe the best children's book is one that an adult can enjoy.  I knew I was going to follow her after reading this brilliant short story.  So when I saw this book was coming out, I was excited to read another full-length suspense novel by her.  Let's just say that she's now two for two.

Are you into Jack the Ripper?  I mean that in the best way. Meaning, do you have an interest in the mythos and story of Jack the Ripper?  Many people do, so don't be ashamed if the answer is yes. The only reason I ask is because this is a book to check out if you do.

While this book is very thrilling suspense with a supernatural twist, it's also a funny coming of age story. Our heroine Rory is from Louisiana, and she has that sparkling Southern woman vibe that I find irresistible. I love her character's voice, the down to earth way she looks at life, and how she manages to find the wry humor in her situation.  Johnson engaged me as a reader by giving me a protagonist that I started caring about on the first page of the story.  She also pulled the British card, which will get it me almost every time. Through in a modern story with a gothic atmosphere and it makes for an irresistible read.  She goes with a "Sixth Sense" theme, and like that movie, you don't quite catch on immediately, but when you do, it's a natural process.  I can't say much more about that, because as River Song from Doctor Who says, "Spoilers!" 

So yes, this was a hit for me.  Such a marvelous concoction of suspense, humor, young adult emotions and situations, and yes, out and out terror in some parts of the book. Suspense builds wonderfully, adding to that gothic atmosphere until I was anxiously waiting for the next aspect of the story to be revealed. The villain is layered and complex, slowly being exposed to show that a lot more than I thought was going on.  I really appreciated that, that wonderful feeling of finding I didn't have the answers all figured out until the very end when I was supposed to know all those things.

Well, I think I talked myself into giving this book five stars, even though I told myself I was going to be more rigorous about reviewing books and giving five stars.

People I recommend this book to:

*Ripperologists or Folks who are 'into' Jack the Ripper
*People who have an obsession with boarding school (like myself)
*People who like Southerners and Southern philosophy on life
*People who like sausage (you have to read to know where I am going with this)
*People who like ghost stories
*People who like 80s new wave like The Smiths and The Cure
*People who like a good, well-written suspense novel
*People who like fish out of water books, specifically Americans in Britain

If any of these things sound like you, read this book!  I recommend it!

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