Review – The Madness Underneath
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  • November 27, 2012
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The Madness Underneath was a confusing read for me. It was one of those books where I hated it one second and then passionately loved it the next. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next or where it was going… but I knew what I wanted from it, where I wanted to see it head. In the end my desires were met in spades.

But the ending… wow, the ending. It’s worth it to read this book just for that ending.

Wow.

* Spoilers ahead for anyone who has not read The Name of the Star *

The Ripper murders changed Rory Devereaux in unimaginable ways. Traumatized and wounded she has been changed into something new, a human Terminus that can exterminate ghosts with a touch. This new found ability does nothing for her at Bristol, where she is recovering away from the stresses of Wexford. When her therapist encourages her to return to her normal routine she leaves for school. However, school is the last thing on Rory’s mind. Her concentration is at an all time low and she finds herself barely caring about anything – her grades, her friends, even her boyfriend. Everything is different now and Rory has to learn to work within this new paradigm.

Like I said, the read was up and down for me for most of the book. Having finished it though I can firmly say that this was intended on Maureen Johnson’s part. The roller coaster effect of the narrative sharpens the ending. And the ending makes sense of the peaks and valleys. I immediately forgot any misgivings I might have had earlier in the read.

And how does Johnson succeed so well in this book? Very simply, she gave me exactly what I wanted with the ending… and then she took it away. Which is amazing and infuriating of her. That said… I’m impatient to read the third book in the series now, probably more so than any series I can recall just now. And that is stunning considering I was fully prepared to not like this book at all. It’s amazing what good writing can do to change your mind… and a good plot twist. Scratch that… a GREAT plot twist.

I will say this, Johnson really nailed the scope of emotions that a human dealing with trauma. As Rory goes through this book we see various coping mechanisms employed to deal with her own levels of sorrow. She experiences guilt, horror, shock, grief… so many things. It’s wonderful to go on this journey with her, to see how the events have changed her and what they are shaping her into. I enjoyed that she didn’t immediately rise to the occasion. Rory resists her fate, she denies it. I found this refreshing and diverting from most plot lines where a character is suddenly special and unique because they are the only person able to perform a specific task. Rory doesn’t just roll over and accept. Rory hides. Rory cowers. And Rory riles. And I was fine with this. This too made the ending that much more powerful. Rory doesn’t have a choice now. She has to act.

… and now we wait for book three… while book two isn’t even out yet. Bugger.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

– BP

* The Madness Underneath releases February 26, 2013.

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