Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

The Madness Underneath (Shades of London, #2)The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Format: Audio (cds from library)
Narrated By: Nicola Barber
Original Publication Year: 2013
Genre(s): YA, Fantasy
Series: The Shades of London, #2
Awards: None

Louisiana teen Rory can see ghosts. She almost choked to death on a piece of meat at her swanky British boarding school (Wexford) in London and soon after she starts to see people no one else can see. Book one ends with her having developed relationships with some other young folks (odd that none of them are more mature) who have the same ability and who are part of a secret branch of the London police and with a particularly violent ghost having tried to kill her. Book two opens with Rory suffocated in overprotective seclusion with her parents in Brighton while she recovers from her ordeal.

Book two has a relatively different feel than book one and I ended the book unsure whether I liked the new feel or not. The boarding school setting and her school friends are faded out throughout the course of the book and even the scenes at Wexford have lost the light and cozy atmosphere of book one. I missed not having more Jazza and Jerome though this book sort of inadvertently highlights how shallow their characterization was in book one as their disappearance doesn’t make too much of an impact. I found it hard to take that Rory would so completely punt her schoolwork considering she had to be a good student to get into Wexford but the events of book one were likely life changing and affected her perspective about such things. Is getting good grades really all that important when you know there’s this whole world out there that no one else can see. Most of what Rory experiences and does in this book makes sense based on what’s happened to her and it did make me think. Thinking…I don’t like to do it often but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However there were a lot of things that happened (like some smooching out of nowhere) that I wasn’t really on board with. Can you see how wildly I wavered back and forth? Did I like it or not?

In the end this book comes out in the plus column for me. Rory remains a fun (and funny) and engaging character and she’s what makes the book work. I was frustrated with her and her decisions at times but they were all pretty well explained. Also the book ended on a pretty crazy cliff of an ending that promises much future drama. The addition of a new and corporeal villain could work well though at the moment that person is kind of a cliché. I’m not sure how I feel about the darker direction this series is taking but I do think it could be interesting. I wish the secondary characters were a little more fleshed out and complex but with the drama ramped up perhaps we’ll get some more development. So a mixed review but I did enjoy it and am looking forward to the next installment.

Anybody else reading this series?  What did you think of the different feeling or tone of this book or did you think it wasn't all that different? 

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