The Name of the Star

by Maureen Johnson
ages: 13+
First sentence: “The eyes of London were watching Claire Jenkins.”
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I can sum this up in one sentence: the goodness of Maureen Johnson with ghosts. Awesome creepy ghosts that kill people.

Rory Deveaux has decided, thanks to her parents being university professors and getting a year abroad in England, to spend her senior year at Wexford in London. It’s a boarding school, not exactly posh, but nothing to sneeze at either. The only damper on the whole England school experience is that there’s a copycat Jack the Ripper killer on the loose.

Everything is going fine, there’s even a bit of a love interest with the prefect Jerome, but then a murder happens on campus. And Rory is the only witness the police have got.

There are so many little ways in which I love Maureen’s writing: the fact that she can make you laugh (“action butts”) and then turn around and scare the pants off you, for one. Granted, I’m easily scared, so you might want take that with a grain of salt. However, for her first foray into paranormal fiction (another aside: “If there are ghosts, does that mean there are… vampires? And werewolves?” “Don’t be stupid.”), she grasps the fine art of tension amazingly well. It helps that while it’s a gory book, it’s not a graphic one. (Thankfully.)

But it’s also the little descriptions that make her books so enjoyable. Like:

Jerome started violently slicing apart his fried eggs. It was fascinating to watch him eat. He chowed down with the speed and force of a well-organized military campaign. He didn’t so much have breakfast as defeat it.

Seriously. How can you not love someone who can come up with a paragraph like that?

While I thoroughly enjoyed this one, I did feel the last little bit was a little abrupt, and I wish Rory had played more of a part in it. Granted, the part she did play was completely true to her character, so I’m just quibbling. That said, the last chapter was brilliant: and it sets up some intriguing things for the next book.

Which means: I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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4 thoughts on “The Name of the Star

  1. I'm really excited about the next one too, though glad that the first book ended completely closed up. Definitely the best way to do trilogies. And I actually loved the way that ending part went, with Rory in character and the other character involved (how's that for no spoilers? 😀 ).

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