Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

I keep changing my star rating on for this one. I had a good time reading it, but in the end, it didn’t really blow me away.

Side rant: I don’t know why I even bother star rating except that I want my reviews to show up when people sort through them. I know I sort through and try to read 2 reviews from each star rating before deciding to read a book. (Yes, I’m that crazy. I know, I know!) I feel like when I rate something as “3 stars”, it is like saying it is bad by standards, but I don’t want to rate everything I read 4 or 5 stars. What do you guys do?

Anyways, moving on. This story is advertised with quotes about being romantic and full of mystery, with quotes from paranormal and fantasy queens like Cassandra Clare and Holly Black. I was expecting something more paranormal and less standard murder mystery. It does involve some strange happenings that turn out to be paranormal in the end, but it just wasn’t enough for me.

Rory Deveraux, of New Orleans, chooses to go off to boarding school in London for her senior year, rather than move to Bristol along with her parents. She figures this way she can see her parents, but experience London city life. On the day of Rory’s arrival in London, a woman is brutally murdered a la Jack the Ripper’s first victim. It also happened to be the anniversary of that murder. The area around her school is the Ripper’s old turf and Rippermania takes over as more of the murders are recreated by a mysterious murderer who evades all the CCTV cameras. On the night of one of the murders, Rory sneaks out to go over to the boys dorm with her roommate and on her way back, she sees and speaks to a man that her roommate didn’t see at all, despite the fact that he was directly in her field of vision. The next day, she awakes to find her school abuzz with fear and excitement. A woman was murdered in their courtyard and she realizes that she’s the only witness. Suddenly, strange people are entering Rory’s life. Smeets with a strange and curt policeman, after the regular line of questioning was completed. She then gets a surprise late entry new roomie who will not leave her alone. As she unravels all the mysteries around her, she finds surprise discoveries about herself and why she was the only one to see the man that night.

It was a terribly fun murder mystery though. Maureen Johnson writes in a fun and easy-to-read format that will appeal to even the more reluctant readers. This is definitely not a book to read before bed (a lesson I learned the hard way). It can be downright gruesome and really friggin’ scary. Those last few chapters... phew! My heart was palpitating and my palms were sweaty.

Maybe murder mysteries just aren’t my thing? I’ve read too few to make a judgement call for me, but if you love ‘em, you should definitely check this out. I think you’ll enjoy the ride. I am interested to see where this series goes and will definitely be reading book two.

I received an ARC from the publisher for review. "The Name of the Star" was published by Putnam Juvenile on September 29th.

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