Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book Review: The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1)

The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1)
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.
(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: September 29, 2011
Kat's Review
With the sequel to this book, The Madness Underneath, due to hit shelves in a few days, I thought it would be a great time to write a review of the first book in the series to give reluctant readers a few reasons why picking it up would be a good idea.  I have to admit, I'm a sucker for books located in Europe, probably because I was an exchange student in University and spent a year in Paris.  That this book is not only set in London but also involves a student studying abroad pulled me in from the start. 
Aurora (Rory) is adjusting to life at a boarding school in London, located in the heart of where the original "Ripper" murders took place.  Unfortunately for her, a new set of copycat murders are taking place in London just as she moves in, putting her and her classmates at risk.  As we watch Rory make friends, develop a crush on Jerome, and try to keep up with her studies, we're also drawn into the mystery of the present day murders and who might be responsible.  When Rory speaks with the suspect, she gets drawn in and realizes that there's more to the murders than just a copycat killer. 

While the book does introduce a paranormal element, it does so within the context of a normal girl's existence, and in a way that doesn't take away from Rory's human experiences of school, friends, and dating.  The writing is skillful and witty, and the characters are well-drawn and likeable.  Maureen Johnson did a great job of highlighting the challenges of adjusting to living in a new country as a teenager and adjusting to a different set of rules and expectations.  She also managed to incorporate murder and ghosts into that world without making it all seem ridiculous. 

Rating: A Good Read

This book caught and kept my attention from the start.  I liked Rory, and rooted for her throughout the book.  The ending was good too.  It tied up enough loose ends to keep me satisfied, yet introduced a whole new twist that left me guessing and excited for the next installment. 

Purchase on Amazon.com The Name of the Star (The Shades of London)

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