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The Name of the Star is the final book I had to read for this year’s Bood Magic Challenge. That means I read, or at least attempted, 12 books that you all voted for me to read last year. Woot.
I have not read Maureen Johnson before this, though I have shelved her books for many years. To be honest contemporary YA and I have only recently begun to get along. This is the first of her books that seemed up my alley – paranormal aspects, private school, mystery, intrigue, romance… yes!!! Sign me up and throw away the key. I like all of those things too much to ignore something like this book.
In The Name of the Star a young woman, Aurora Deveaux (Rory), travels from Louisiana to London, England to attend a school called Wexford. She’s in for a rough time right from the start, her classes are grueling, her schedule murder… literally. Shortly after her arrival a series of murders patterned after Jack the Ripper begin to surface on the streets of London. Students at Wexford are terrified and intrigued in tandem. Rory tries to maintain normalcy but begins to find strange (and stranger) things happening wherever she goes… and when a murder turns up on her doorstep Rory finds herself getting involved in the crime of the, and another, century.
I really enjoyed most of this book. The first few hundred pages were completely perfect; pacing, idea, characterization… everything fell neatly into its place. However, Johnson lost me in the last quarter of the book when she began introducing new characters and plot elements. I didn’t enjoy this transition as much. I found my attention waning as the characters in this era of the book were getting developed. I wanted a bit more action at this point. That said, he ending tied everything up very succinctly for me, but I was sad that it wasn’t a perfect book when I was fully prepared for it to be. I was a bit disappointed but only because the beginning was so incredible for me. It only lost half a star for me and that was after “the big reveal”.
And the reveal? So not what I was expecting. Bear in mind if you read any ad copy synopsis of this book anywhere else online the reveal will be completely spoiled for you. I was lucky enough to have avoided it for the last year and some change, so I was very surprised when it hit me upside the head in context. I really enjoyed what Johnson did with this idea. The pre-ending aside, I did like the direction the book went to. It makes me wonder what Johnson has in store for us in book two, The Madness Underneath, which I have managed to avoid reading anything about as well. I find this works the best for any upcoming book. I like to be surprised. And I was by this, which makes it a very good read.
4.5 out of 5 stars.
And, with that, on to The Madness Underneath.