Release date: 29th September 2011
Genre: thriller/ YA /paranormal
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: HarperCollins
Summary: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, humour, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.
The Name of the Star puts the famous, gruesome and still unsolved murders committed by Jack the Ripper into modern-day London, re-inventing them in a new light and through the day of an ordinary teenager, Rory Deveaux, who gets sucked into the centre of the action unexpectedly and involuntarily.
A true Southern girl from Louisiana, Rory moves to England with her academic parents, making East London her new home for a year. She struggles as she tries to adjust to a completely new way of life: a new culture, a new school, new friends and a possible new romantic interest. One day, when Rory has a little accident during dinner that changes her significantly and when anew Ripper begins to prey on London more than a century after the original murders, Rory's life becomes completely unhinged as, somehow along the way, she manages to become the new Ripper's most coveted victim.
The setting of this novel is truly wonderful. Rory's public school (which is a private school in American lingo) is set in East London, more precisely in Whitechapel, where Jack the Ripper, the notorious and still unidentified serial killer, killed his five victims in 1888. Therefore, Rory is right at the centre of the dreadful new Ripper murders from the star. The weather is often gloomy and rainy, which adds to the feeling of darkness and anxiety that accompanies the murders. This time, the police know when and approximately where the Ripper will strike again, which definitely creates natural suspense and keeps the reader biting their nails as one wonders whether the Ripper will escape justice again or get caught. I can definitely compliment the author for creating such a dark, Gothic atmosphere.
Johnson adds a new, supernatural spin to the Jack-the-Ripper legend and it this the brutal killer's true identity, combined with Rory's new talent, which puts Rory in grave danger. The original plot and all its twists provide the reader with a thrilling, adrenaline-filled read. There were a few times when the motives of the characters were unclear to me at first, and the explanation of the "secret police" which appears in the novel puzzled me at first, too (there were some grey areas I had to fill with 'colour'), but by the end of the novel, things finally become clear and unravel in a satisfactory manner.
Rory's character is a rare gem. It seems that female protagonists in YA literature follow a certain pattern, but Rory stands out. She's a happy Southern girl who goes on an adventure. She's proud of her heritage and doesn't hide it from her new English friends, while at the same time she is willing to learn their ways. She possesses the right amount of doubt, but she is also willing to keep her mind open. She acknowledges her fears, but forces herself to be brave for a good cause. She's smart and loves her (slightly) quirky family. Rory is a character that is easy to love. The other characters compliment the story well and I found myself caring for all of them.
All in all, The Name of the Star is a cleverly constructed thrillers that features suspense, horror, humour and romance. It is a must-read for those who are morbidly curious about the Ripper, like myself, and I definitely recommend it to all who love a good and original thriller.
Becky says: Thank you for the fantastic review Irena. I just knew you’d love this one. It sounds so dark and Gothic and very scary. I’m impressed that the author could take such a notorious crime and make it her own. Maureen Johnson must be quite a writer.
Both our thanks go to HarperCollins for sending the book to review.