Review: The Name of the Star

Well! I know I said in my last review post that I was in a bit of a rut… and that’s not incorrect, but I’m also sorta rolling! In my unfortunate sickness late this week, I picked up another new book and finished it in two days. I found this book, Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star, in a couple of ways. One was Twitter. I follow a few authors on twitter and everyone LOVES Maureen Johnson there, so I’ve been intrigued for a while. And then the other was Facebook. (Woo social media!). I saw a post from the Penguin Books page about the third book in this series (and for the life of me can’t remember the name right now). It looked interesting, so I looked up the first one, and THAT looked interesting, so in one of my recent binges I picked it up. So yeah! That’s how I came to read Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star. Here we go:

REVIEW: The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson
Published: 2011
Length: 372

-image from Google

Plot: When her parents decide to take a sabbatical to teach in Bristol, England for a year, Louisiana high school senior Rory Deveaux decides to attend Wexford, in London. When she arrives, however, she enters a city that’s just experienced a copy cat killing of Jack the Ripper – a scary accurate replica. When she gets to school, she falls into a routine – that includes watching out for The Ripper. After a near choking experience, she starts realizing that she’s got an ability that no one else does – the ability to see ghosts. With this new capability, Rory quickly learns she’s gotten herself into some real trouble, because she’s seeing the man people think is The Ripper, but no one else does. And now, she’s become his next target.

Most Memorable Line(s): “The Name of the Star is what you Fear.” and “Fear can’t hurt you. When it washes over you, give it no power. It’s a snake with no venom. Remember that. That knowledge can save you.”
-So I chose two lines for today’s review. They tie into each other fairly well, so it works! The first line is, obviously, where the title of the book comes in. But it also has an incredible meaning. It’s a theme that you see often: you don’t necessarily fear a THING, you fear its name. You don’t fear the dark, you fear the unknown of what’s in the dark.

What I liked: This story was FUN. But it was also scary! I didn’t expect that. Which is stupid of me – it’s a story about Jack the Ripper killings. OBVIOUSLY THAT’S SCARY, DANIELLE. Anyway, Maureen Johnson created a really likable narrator in Rory, she was reliable, someone I could relate to. I really enjoyed the world Johnson was created, and I thought the way she handled the whole “oh hey look I can see ghosts” thing was done well – again, it was believable. It’s absurd, but she explained it, gave a reason, and said “here it is. I’m telling you why.” I appreciated that! What I also appreciated was, despite knowing that there were two books ahead of me, I couldn’t figure out exactly how the end was going to go. I didn’t know what was going to happen to Rory, ultimately. Her supporting characters were also fun. She really created people with distinct personalities. I felt like there was a reason for everyone I meant – even if it was just to create the high school vibe, at times. Johnson created a world that I really felt was capable of lasting for more than just this one book. The dialogue was great – the dynamic of a girl from the South in the middle of London really shined through. She made the accents understood.

What I didn’t like: My only real complaint is the split that happened pre-ability and post-ability for Rory. Obviously, once she figures out she can see dead people, new characters come into play. Duh, she can’t be the only one. I felt, though, that the characters and the situations I was growing interested in that didn’t have this ability really fell to the wayside, and I missed them. It was something I very much noticed throughout – one second it seemed as though her “non-able” friends were making a comeback, and whoosh, Rory was whisked away. So yeah, I missed them!

Grade: 7/10… Because I foolishly didn’t think it would scare me, and I don’t really like being scared, but mostly because I missed the characters Rory had been getting to know before she had her incident and gained her ability.


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