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Content Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile; First Edition edition (September 29, 2011)
Language: English

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 in the autumn of 1888. 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 now believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was 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.

  • Sexual Content:  Mild
  • Profanity:  Moderate
  • Violence:  Heavy
  • Other Notables:  Legal Drinking (in England)
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This may be hard to believe, but this is my first Maureen Johnson book.  I've stalked her on Twitter for a long time, and she is a riot, to say the least, so I was excited to see how that translated into her writing.  I probably didn't pick the best example of her comic side, but I definitely enjoyed The Name of the Star.....well, as much as anyone CAN enjoy a book about a guy that's killing people. It feels wrong to be fascinated by Jack the Ripper, a man who brutally murdered at least four women in 1888, but that's exactly what's happened to the town that Rory has moved to, and I found myself swept up in the Ripper frenzy right along with them.  This book was creepy, on multiple levels.  I definitely recommend reading or listening to this at night, to get the full effect.  There were a lot of interesting facts, and quite a few gory details, that I had never heard about Jack the Ripper in the story.  Maureen did a good job interweaving all these details into the plot, and not making the jump from present to past choppy.  I loved that not everything is what it seems.  I liked Rory a lot.  She was fun-loving and adventurous, but at the same time just trying find her place in this new world she's found herself in.  Not only London, but also her part in this new Ripper mystery.  The romance was cute, but not anything spectacular.  I felt like her relationship with Jerome was sweet, but very surface.  I'll be surprised if they stay together in the future books in the series, and I'm ok with that.  The only thing that bothered me about Rory was that there are a few hints that are dropped in the story about the killer and the mystery, that are pretty obvious to us as readers, but that Rory is oblivious to.  This makes her come across as.....not quite as intelligent as I would have liked.  Overall, though, I thought this was an exciting and suspenseful book that I'm happy that I got a chance to listen to.