After a solid month, I have finally finished The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson! There is a synopsis of this book in my last post. Part of the reason I took so long was because of my reading slump, the other part was due to some lagging in the narrative. The first solid chunk of the book read as a contemporary novel, which it is definitely not. So it took a bit of time for Johnson to get to the nitty gritty of what the novel was really about, and what Rory’s (the main character) situation really was. Was this a good or bad thing? I guess it would depend on the reader. For me it was a bit in the middle.
The book starts off with Rory first moving to London, and we see her acclimating to boarding school and the British lifestyle. I think that this was necessary for setting purposes. It takes about 80 pages for Rory to be 100% involved with the whole “Jack the Ripper” situation, yet within those first 80 pages, there are little tiny details that Johnson puts in there that actually really creeped me out as a reader when I found the connections later on.
For those of you who haven’t read it, I’ll just say that it did have its flaws, but overall it was so suspenseful, entertaining, and different from most YA books I’ve read so far. I do recommend this!
**WARNING: Spoilers are to follow from here on out!** For example, Rory, Jazza, and Jerome go to the Flowers and Archers pub where one of the Ripper victims was murdered. Nothing happens while they’re there, so they go to a different pub to actually hang out and have fun. Later on in the book, when Rory actually talks to the Ripper the night of the dance, he says that they met at the Flowers and Archers, but that Rory probably doesn’t remember. I thought Johnson did a brilliant job of making it so that the reader is in Rory’s position in which we do not remember that encounter at all. I was forced to go back to the Flowers and Archers scene and re-read whatever encounter the Ripper was talking about, and sure enough it was there:
“I almost walked straight into a man who was standing right behind us. He was dressed in a suit with a slightly too-large jacket. He was completely and smoothly bald. His lack of hair highlighted his eyes, which were feverishly bright. When I apologized, the eyes grew wider, in what appeared to be shock.”
Now when I first read this, I knew that he had to be important, and that he was most likely a ghost. However, I was unaware that he was the ghost! Then I forgot this encounter altogether until it was mentioned hundreds of pages later!
The suspense factor was pretty spot-on for me. I was constantly wondering what was going to happen, and how in the hell they were going to catch the Ripper when he’s a freaking GHOST. It’s not like they had Zak Bagans on speed dial or anything! As for the whole “Jack the Ripper” concept, I think it was such a genius move for the storyline and the setting. Jack the Ripper is more of a symbol of terror. That name itself connotates horror and blood, and ignites fear in people. As the book points out, Jack the Ripper was never found or identified; no one knows who Jack the Ripper really was, and I think using him as a tool in this story was brilliant.
I was pretty disappointed with the relationship between Rory and Jerome. All their relationship consisted of was them making out. They never really bonded over discussion unless it was Jerome going off on one of his creepy obsessive Ripper rants. I think I’d prefer Rory with Stephen to be honest, and I’m crossing my fingers that happens in the second book. How awesome would that be?! A team of two power couples keeping England safe from ghosts: Boo and Callum, and Rory and Stephen. C’mon you know that’d be cool.
I was also disappointed that the friendship between Rory and Jazza started off so strong, and then Jazza disappeared for like half the book. And really Rory’s character in general was kind of eh to me. She seemed pretty blah and flat through the whole thing. By the end, all I can say about her is that she likes Cheez Whiz (whatever that is), she likes to make out with Jerome in the library, that she can see ghosts, and she has some weird ass family members in Louisiana. I would’ve liked to see more about Rory that I could connect with on a deeper level than liking to kiss boys and eat a warm cheesy snack. Like if she were witty and snarky, or something that made her more interesting on a level that the reader could relate to.
Despite these things, I did enjoy the book and will be reading the second one once I get back to California (which unfortunately isn’t until December ).
I give this a solid 3 stars
Recommend to: Young adult readers, YA Paranormal readers