Customer Reviews for

The Name of the Star (Shades of London Series #1)

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

21 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

A witty tale of intrigue and adventure

Take an American girl from Bénouville, Louisiana. Relocate her to a boarding school in London. Throw in a couple of ghosts, a dallop of mystery and a dash of romance and you've got the page-turning, spine-tingling, keeps-you-up-at-night-to-finish-reading-it novel that i...
Take an American girl from Bénouville, Louisiana. Relocate her to a boarding school in London. Throw in a couple of ghosts, a dallop of mystery and a dash of romance and you've got the page-turning, spine-tingling, keeps-you-up-at-night-to-finish-reading-it novel that is The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.

Rory, has a witty and spunky voice - which I found to be similar to Maureen's Twitter-chatter style. The story opens up with Rory giving the reader a very brief background of her family and home, the reason she decided to go to Wexford, and her arrival at her new school. We meet Claudia, the house mistress, and Charlotte, the head girl - for some reason I blended the two characters in my head and had a bit of trouble sorting them out in the end, however, this isn't pertinent to the tale. We are introduced to Jazza (Rory's cautious roommate), and Jerome (Rory's Ripper-addicted interest, of sorts); both were such fun characters to read that I found myself looking forward to seeing more of them.

The main plot is the ghost story/mystery that is weaved throughout. There is a killer on the loose, one who is copying the Jack the Ripper slayings. Yet, in a city with CCTVs everywhere, the killer seems to be invisible to the police; that is, until Rory thinks she spotted someone out and about, near the site of one of the killings. Once she tells the police her story, the plot picks up pace and takes you on a whirlwind adventure with eccentric roommates, mysterious strangers, and so much Jack the Ripper information that you come away feeling well versed on the topic - and a somewhat creepier for it.

I love reading Maureen's novels because she is very descriptive about places and situations, so much so that you feel as though you're walking next to the characters - The Name of the Star is written in this fashion. I also enjoyed the bits of family information that Rory litters throughout her narrative; funny little anecdotes to help describe the way she's feeling. One thing that I appreciated about the story is that, compared to other protagonists who have supernatural abilities thrusted upon them, Rory reacts in a very normal and completely expected way. She experiences denial and disbelief in a believable way.

The Name of the Star is the first in a trilogy, and while this story ties up a lot of loose-ends, the ending leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction and curiosity as to what will happen next.

I utterly enjoyed reading it, and highly recommend this to anyone who is a mystery fan.

PS - there are no vampires.

posted by Shanella on November 2, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

A disappointing read with a promising sequel.

The cover:

I like this one. It does represent Rory and some place of London.

The storyline:

Well, well. This was an interesting read. The story begins when Rory, the main character, goes to a boarding school in London, she settles there and meets new friends. T...
The cover:

I like this one. It does represent Rory and some place of London.

The storyline:

Well, well. This was an interesting read. The story begins when Rory, the main character, goes to a boarding school in London, she settles there and meets new friends. Then, while she’s settling, a murder happens, what’s so special about it is that it has the same characteristics of the victims of the infamous Jack the Ripper. She starts to fall in love with this boy, Jerome, she met while the murders go on.

Then, on the fourth murder, she suddenly becomes the only witness the police has. After interrogating her, she thinks something weird is happening and that’s when she realizes that she’s seeing the ghost of the ripper, because the ripper is a ghost.

That’s when she gets a new roommate whose later found to be a police woman protecting Rory. They become friends along with other two guys who explain things to her and tell her that she has a special gift.

The ripper shows up again and this time he wants Rory. He goes on threating her and the other two guys until she gives up and go with him. Later on, Boo (the new roommate) sends her “ghost” friend to save Rory. She saves Rory but ends up dead too.

At the end, Rory discovers something new and interesting about herself.

What I liked:

The story has some sense in it. I did like how Maureen included Jack the Ripper in this book and how she described every murder very vividly.
The main protagonist, Rory, was brave. And very smart at the beginning.
The writing style was good. Not great but good.
The characters were good.
What I disliked:

The pace in the story was killing me. At the beginning, I got very intrigued by the concept of the book, then the flow of the events was going slowly for me.
I hated how everything seemed easy to happen or to do in this story.
I hated seeing Rory becoming naïve.
The ending wasn’t good at all. I expected more in it and thought maybe what didn’t please me in the beginning and the middle of the book will do at the end, I was disappointed.
I was disappointed not to find the story horrifying. I was expecting it to scare me to death, unfortunately, it didn’t :(.
Why I went for the audiobook eventually:

I started reading the e-book first, but when things started to bore me, I decided to get the audiobook, but guess what? Even the amazing English accents didn’t cheer me up :s. So, thanks to the audiobook, I devoured the story whole even though I was going to stop reading it.

The characters:

Rory is the main protagonist. She’s from the US but goes to a boarding school in England. She’s smart and brave as well as loving and kind.

Jerome is the nice guy. He’s been mostly kept out of story because he had no idea what was going on.

Jazza is Rory’s first roommate and later best friend. She’s kind, nice and smart too. That’s probably why she and Rory became friends in the first place ^_^.

Boo is super cool. She has this funny and cool British accent that I love. She’s been mysterious but later we found out that she’s as nice and cool as Jazza, almost.

The other worth mentioning characters are: Stephen and Callum.

Conclusion:

This could’ve been a great book with the writing style and the characters. Unfortunately, it disappointed me a lot.

Will I be reading the sequel?

Definitely. The sequel has the potential to be way better and I’m having great expectations about it. Let’s hope I won’t be disappointed agai

posted by Ranousha on February 17, 2012

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  • Posted November 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A witty tale of intrigue and adventure

    Take an American girl from Bénouville, Louisiana. Relocate her to a boarding school in London. Throw in a couple of ghosts, a dallop of mystery and a dash of romance and you've got the page-turning, spine-tingling, keeps-you-up-at-night-to-finish-reading-it novel that is The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.

    Rory, has a witty and spunky voice - which I found to be similar to Maureen's Twitter-chatter style. The story opens up with Rory giving the reader a very brief background of her family and home, the reason she decided to go to Wexford, and her arrival at her new school. We meet Claudia, the house mistress, and Charlotte, the head girl - for some reason I blended the two characters in my head and had a bit of trouble sorting them out in the end, however, this isn't pertinent to the tale. We are introduced to Jazza (Rory's cautious roommate), and Jerome (Rory's Ripper-addicted interest, of sorts); both were such fun characters to read that I found myself looking forward to seeing more of them.

    The main plot is the ghost story/mystery that is weaved throughout. There is a killer on the loose, one who is copying the Jack the Ripper slayings. Yet, in a city with CCTVs everywhere, the killer seems to be invisible to the police; that is, until Rory thinks she spotted someone out and about, near the site of one of the killings. Once she tells the police her story, the plot picks up pace and takes you on a whirlwind adventure with eccentric roommates, mysterious strangers, and so much Jack the Ripper information that you come away feeling well versed on the topic - and a somewhat creepier for it.

    I love reading Maureen's novels because she is very descriptive about places and situations, so much so that you feel as though you're walking next to the characters - The Name of the Star is written in this fashion. I also enjoyed the bits of family information that Rory litters throughout her narrative; funny little anecdotes to help describe the way she's feeling. One thing that I appreciated about the story is that, compared to other protagonists who have supernatural abilities thrusted upon them, Rory reacts in a very normal and completely expected way. She experiences denial and disbelief in a believable way.

    The Name of the Star is the first in a trilogy, and while this story ties up a lot of loose-ends, the ending leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction and curiosity as to what will happen next.

    I utterly enjoyed reading it, and highly recommend this to anyone who is a mystery fan.

    PS - there are no vampires.

    21 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great book!

    I can't begin to express how much I love it when an author takes a classic story and makes it into something I never thought of before. I have also been a big fan of Jack the Ripper. The stories itself have always intrigued me in who this man is. And why he committed the murders he committed? What was the purpose? With Ms. Johnson amazing writing style, I, the reader, am taken back to a place I have never been before, and see things new.

    I really enjoyed the plot. If anything the plot grabs you and pulls you in. The re-taling of Jack the Ripper gave you goosebumps all over your body! The reason the plot is so amazing is the the flow of it. I like how the reader is slowly introduce to the Jack the Ripper tales and how it weaves itself into Rory's life like a weed. You see it slowly take over her life, and you can't help but hold your breath.

    The love story in this book totally caught me off guard. While I was caught up with the Jack the Ripper and the murders, I had no idea that a romance had sprung up. I was quite surprised but loved that in the mist of murder and mayhem, that their could be a love after all.

    If you love a dark, edgy, amazingly written story, read this book. I think Ms. Johnson did an fantastic job on bringing back such a classic tale and putting something new in it. Her characters/plot caught in a way a book has never caught me before. Drowned in a great mystery, The Name of the Star is a book you must read!

    14 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Mysterious and kept me guessing!

    Rippermania. That's all I have to say! I mean - doesn't that draw you in already? This is why I was so excited to start The Name of the Star and I gotta tell ya.it was pretty awesome! I couldn't learn enough about these murders and the ghostly happenings around Rory's school.

    I loved Rory's character. She was the subtly-strong type and getting to know her was a breeze, which allowed me to enjoy her story more! She was normal.besides the fact that she can see people who aren't really there.or are they?! I really enjoyed that this book had a wide spectrum of friends and foe. There was never a dull moment!

    Maureen Johnson has fun with her writing, but knows when to get serious. I absolutely loved that she wasn't afraid to write about the Ripper murders and even recreate them - in a way - but still leave out the gory details. Very tastefully done and I appreciate that.believe me I do! Johnson also knows how to keep a reader on the edge of their seats. I was about the pull my own hair out trying to figure out what the heck was going on!!

    One let down for me was the no-closure-relationship between Rory and Jerome. I loved the light romance, don't get me wrong, but I would've liked to read more or even get some closure. Then again, the series isn't over!!

    The Name of the Star is a must read for those who love suspense and mystery.oh and a bit of supernatural-ness! ;) It really was a pleasant and refreshing read. Definitely a book that should be nudged up to the top of your reading piles!

    Review based on ARC

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    Light, yet engaging

    Like an entertaining episode of Doctor Who. Swings a bit too hard from normal YA to paranormal sci-fi early on, but finds a sweet middle-ground. Light mystery enough to keep reader engaged and satisfied when connections are made. Recommended reading. Would suggest to friends.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 2, 2011

    Spooky fun!

    The creepy Jack-the-Ripper story line drew me into this novel. It does not disappoint!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2014

    Warning only for thoose who have read the book already

    WHY WHY WHY STEPEN? HE WAS MY FAVROTE CHARECTEE! I STILL LOVE IT UGH I NEED THIRD BOOK

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  • Posted January 24, 2014

    What a wonderful, interesting story with plenty of twists and tu

    What a wonderful, interesting story with plenty of twists and turns and surprises along the way. I got this book when I went to BEA12 and I got a paperback copy signed when I went to NYCC12. I wound up giving my hardcover copy to my sisters library while I get to keep my signed copy. Fun stuff. Regardless, I loved being able to dig into this book because wow. As a historian I can appreciate the Jack the Ripper story line, and besides, who doesn’t love a good gruesome murder? Of all the things I wish my college had a class on, I would wish it was Jack the Ripper because there is so much un known about the person that committed these crimes.



    I could tell you so much about Jack the Ripper because a girlfriend of my wanted to study all about him/her and their crimes against women. Whats most fascinating is that there is speculation that Jack the Ripper was actually Jackie the Ripper, and while it’s horrible that these murders could have been committed by a female, it’s really, really interesting. But I digress.



    I really felt that these characters in this book were special and fabulous, and the plot as well was really great. As we learned more about Rory, I found that I loved her and her southern roots, especially when she decided to draw out a conversation the way that only southern people can. I also liked that it was a nickname Rory being short for Aurora because there was nothing about her that screamed Disney princess. While she wasn’t a tough guy, she also wasn’t soft. (I would say soft as a southern bell, but you get on the bad side of a southern beauty queen or any southern gal, and man, you will have a vicious Hellcat on your hands.)



    I liked that there was some romance in this book and that it didn’t really distract from the Ripper plotline. I do feel like there is the potential for a pesky triangle, but we’ll see where the second book goes with that one. I felt that each of the characters were unique and fun with their clever nicknames like Jazza and Boo, and that they weren’t just the same cookie cutter witty character, some were competitive and blunt others were really sweet and funny, all of them were different which was great.


    I found that the whole Shades plot was really clever and interesting. The way that a near death experience could allow you to go all Macaulay Culkin. I liked learning about the near death experiences of the squad, and I’m interested to see how their various experiences will bring them together. At first when I got this book, I wasn’t sure how we were going to be getting a whole second book, but now, having read it, I totally understand and I can’t wait for book 2.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 27, 2013

    Maureen definitely starts off on the right foot. Even before we

    Maureen definitely starts off on the right foot. Even before we meed any of our characters, we come across the first victim. Just like that. I love when authors throw us into the thick of things right away. "Hey thanks for reading my book. *boom* Here's a dead body!" Of course, after this Maureen takes things easy. She does an excellent job of building the story. We get to know Rory (before her encounters with ghost), her classmates, the school, and all those little details. It was nice to see her living a normal existence before she was thrown into the world of paranormal. So while it was a slow beginning, I enjoyed it.




    I liked Rory instantly. I already knew she was brave/tough as she opted to spend her senior year not in Louisiana with her friends, but in England while her parents were on sabbatical in Bristol. Major points for that alone. She is also very smart and witty girl, with her humor bleeding into her thoughts - both spoken and unspoken. What made her truly believable is that she had a rough time adjusting to the English school system. Not only that, but she wasn't immediately adopted into the "popular" group, nor was she deemed "unworthy." She made friends easily and became very close with her roommate, Jazza, whom I also loved.




    I found the characters to all be believable and likeable, well the ones we were supposed to like anyway. Even the minor characters become well defined and real in my eyes. Especially Jo. We see so little of Jo, but she is easily one of my favorite characters.




    The romance is so minor it seems almost silly to mention it. While Jerome has the appeal of being an English boy - who doesn't love a good accent? - all I really view him as is somebody for Rory to make out with every now and then. There's a small budding (high school) romance, but that's it. I'm not sure if this is something Maureen plans to explore more in the sequels, but I won't be heartbroken if this is all we get from these two.




    As far as the killer goes, I'm flip-flopping. The motive was iffy at best. However, when dealing with somebody who is killing innocent people Jack the Ripper style, does it really matter if we get a legit motive or not? Clearly, they're insane. Let's also consider who they're emulating. Can we really fault the killer for a lame motive, when the (wo)man bring emulated didn't have a motive her/himself? At least not that we know of anyway. Yes, I'm insinuating that Jack the Ripper could have truly been Jacqueline the Ripper.




    Maureen did a fabulous job taking this infamous moment in British history and making it something new and fresh. She obviously did her research on the topic and completely delved into it, providing even the reader with the most basic Ripper knowledge a footing to stand on. Not only that, she took the ghost concept to a whole new level. While I've come across ghosts novels of a similar concept, she tweaked it just enough that it was her own.




    If you're looking for an eerily, ghostly read, this is definitely something you should pick up. The dialogue is perfect, the scenery described wonderfully, and the plot intriguing. The ending, while not a cliffhanger, is just enough of a tease that you'll start yelling "Somebody get it The Madness Underneath, stat!"

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  • Posted March 30, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    This is one of the better books I've read recently. The writing

    This is one of the better books I've read recently. The writing is easy to read, the story flows well, and the characters are interesting. While the story takes places in modern-day London it is not a stretch to feel you're in 1888 London, the author adds small details that transport you back in time.
    Rory and her parents move to England from Louisiana, and Rory starts school at Wexford, in London. She and her roommate get along famously and sneak out one night to the boys' dormitory to overlook the city and watch the goings-on during the anniversary of one of the Jack The Ripper killings. While sneaking back into their dormitory Rory is approached by a man who asks if what she's doing is okay, she assured him it is and continues her climb in through the window. Once inside the school Rory's roommate wants to know who she was talking to as Rory was alone outside.
    As the bodies pile up Rory gets another roommate, a girl named Boo, who along with being a slob also has some odd friends. Rory soon learns more from Boo and her friends than she EVER wanted to know, and becomes a key piece of the solution to stopping the current-day Ripper.
    I would have given the book 5 stars but some of the explanations for what is happening are a little difficult to follow and cause you to spend too much time trying to figure out why the explanations were so convoluted.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2013

    I can't wait for the sequel, The Madness Underneath, to come out

    I can't wait for the sequel, The Madness Underneath, to come out February 26!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2013

    Good but,, ? ? Good but.......

    This book was really good and i enjoyed it, however i think it was kind of slow and a little hard to get into at times. The beginning is the really slow part so just keep reading, i promise it will get better. Overall i do recommend this book to anyone who likes a little mystery and a good book to keep you guessing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2013

    Gruesome, thrilling, laugh out loud funny

    I've been a Maureen Johnson fan for years now, and this is on of her strongest offerings. Her trademark humor is present in full force, along with enough ghosts, mystery, and romance to tempt even non-readers. It's a quick read, and I can't wait for the sequel!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2012

    TITLE IS VERY MISLEADING

    I am a boy who's teacher recommended this book and at first i thought that this was going to be a girly book
    Boy was i wrong

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  • Posted December 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    After derping around with a friend's copy of this for a few mont

    After derping around with a friend's copy of this for a few months, I finally got around to reading it on a sick day - and I'm glad I finally picked it up!

    The Name of the Star is a quick paranormal romp through the streets of London, filled with unexpected twists and turns and entertaining character (of both this world and the Otherworld). The story itself is fairly fast-paced and pretty easy to zoom through in one sitting.

    I liked the charismatic cast of characters - Rory herself was strong and witty; "Jack" was mildly terrifying and somehow mildly hilarious; the wide range of side-characters were beautifully fleshed out and well crafted. Not gonna lie, though: Jazza wins as my favorite character. She reminds me of me.

    Thankfully, characters are where Maureen seems to shine - I haven't met a character of hers I haven't liked or thought was poorly executed. This may be because Maureen herself is a bit of a character. But hey, gotta love it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2012

    Unexpected.

    This was nothing like what I thought it would be. It was a great story. It was..... unexpected.

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  • Posted July 28, 2012

    There is so much praise I have to give this book, it’s dif

    There is so much praise I have to give this book, it’s difficult to decide where to begin. Right off the bat, I was drawn into this story by the voice of the narrative, given by the character Rory. I found myself laughing my head off at some of things Rory said—not because the words were supposed to be funny, but because of the way they were presented.

    I also love the way Maureen Johnson described London through the eyes of an American girl. Stumbling on the coble stone streets? Getting used to the chilly air? Even though I’ve never been to London myself, I feel as if when I go, I will be just like that.

    Maureen also did a wonderful job of pulling ghosts and danger and romance into this thriller. I only wish the stuff with the ghosts had shown up a bit quicker, and I wish the romance factor played in a smidgen more. For those two things, this book lost half a star from me. But all in all, a great read for any YA book lover like myself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2012

    This book was good but it was not great. I felt like it was slow

    This book was good but it was not great. I felt like it was slow in some parts but it could be a lot worse.

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  • Posted June 21, 2012

    Good!

    I've previously never read any books by Maureen Johnson but the cover alone drew me in. It was a good book. I have to say there were some chapters that I didn't really see the point of, but the end made up for it. I can't wait till the next book comes out.

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  • Posted June 8, 2012

    Love the creepiness!! Don't read the synopsis - just read the bo

    Love the creepiness!! Don't read the synopsis - just read the book for the ultimate shock factor!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2012

    Good read for rainy days!

    Enjoyed this book. It was a easy read and kept me entertained. I didnt really enjoy the ending because it didnt make much sense and left me confused. If i had to guess i think it was the type of ending you had to conclude on your own as to what happened. If your a jack the ripper "fan" i would definetly recomend this book.

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