Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star (Shades of London, #1)The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Format: Audio (CDs)
Narrated By: Nicola Barber
Original Publication Year: 2011
Genre(s): YA, Urban Fantasy, Mystery
Series: Shades of London (#1)
Awards: Edgar Award Nominee for Best Young Adult

Rory Devereaux is a Louisiana teenager who gets an opportunity to spend her senior year of high school in England. She chooses to attend a prestigious boarding school called Wexford, located in London’s East End in the White Chapel Area. Rory has the misfortune of arriving at her new school just as a series of grisly murders begin that seem to be copies of those by Jack the Ripper over a century earlier. While most of England is gripped by Rippermania, Rory is too caught up in adjusting to her new school to take much notice until she sees a man that nobody else can see on the night of the third murder. Suddenly, she is playing a central role in the investigation to catch the “new” Ripper.

Despite the fact that this wasn’t entirely what I expected (when I skimmed the back cover I assumed that this was a historical that took place during the original Ripper killings), I found myself quite enjoying the book. There is plenty to unravel and even if some of the mysteries can be seen a mile off some are quite surprising and all lead to a pretty interesting story.

One thing I frequently struggle with when reading young adult literature is trouble connecting with the characters. I didn’t have that problem here. Rory may be a little stereotypically “Louisianan” but she’s got a good sense of humor and is pretty believably teenage but not in any kind of annoying way. There are some points where she acts in a somewhat unbelievable manner to steer the plot but there is a pretty effective attempt to explain the actions and they aren’t ignored, which deserves some credit.

Nicola Barber’s reading is a little rough at first mostly with Rory who occasionally sounds vaguely Australian rather than Louisianan. But she eventually settles into the voices and overall does a good job.

In the end, this was a fun enough read and while I’m not chomping at the bit to start book two in the series I do plan on getting to it eventually.

One final comment is that this also wins the award for most oddly misleading cover.  There is only one minor character with red hair and as far as I can remember no one ever where's a top hat.  So what exactly is going on on the cover?

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