The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

click meHow did I get the book?  Bought it.

Genre: Paranormal

First Impression: Why is the UK cover so awful?

Synopsis: The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.
Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

200 words (excluding the history lesson) review: I scrutinised this book more than I have any of the others I’ve read this year. Partly because it’s ‘American in London’ opens itself up to a minefield of pitfalls/stereotyping and because I think Maureen Johnson is amazing and didn’t want to automatically say: “This is great, you must read it.”

The first third of the book is intriguing, building on suspense and creepy. Rory’s ability was easy to spot but didn’t make the story less interesting. Once Rory realised herself and Boo showed up I enjoyed the story a little less. It was still good but the creep-factor was gone.

It’s clear that a lot of research has gone into this. I loved the continued making and drinking of tea as well as the Amy Pond moment. There are nearly 400 pages of story and I only picked up on three things that didn’t work for me. The main one being Gunpowder Plot. I quote:

“Guy Fawkes night,” Jazza explained, sighing at the change of subject. “Fifth of November, 1605. A group of people led by Guy Fawkes…”

Robert Catesby was the leader, Guy Fawkes was the one guarding the barrels and arrested when leaving the cellar. When I read that section I ended up putting the book down to double-check because I thought it wasn’t right.

Apart from that I was hard pressed to leave the story. The narration is engaging and the assortment of characters makes sure you have someone to route for. I thought the ending was touching and will be buying the next book.

Recommend it?

Absolutely.

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