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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 100% fun with a creepy edge!
What a fun book to read! The main character, Rory's parents move to England for business and she decides to attend a private boarding school- to get the whole "English" experience. Shortly after moving in, bonding with her roommate, crushing on a guy, and secretly despising the resident "perfect" girl- tragedy hits London. Someone is murdering people in the same...
Published on September 29, 2011 by Jessica Dennis

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Abrupt and Aimless
I'll admit that I bought The Name of the Star because I am a big fan of Maureen Johnson's online presence. Her sometimes odd, but always funny, tweets always make me giggle. Because of that, I was sure that I would love this book.
I did not. I didn't even like it that much, to be honest. I have a lot of reasons why I didn't click with The Name of the Star. For...
Published on December 9, 2012 by Andrea Thompson


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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 100% fun with a creepy edge!, September 29, 2011
By 
Jessica Dennis (Seattle, Wa United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Name of the Star (The Shades of London) (Hardcover)
What a fun book to read! The main character, Rory's parents move to England for business and she decides to attend a private boarding school- to get the whole "English" experience. Shortly after moving in, bonding with her roommate, crushing on a guy, and secretly despising the resident "perfect" girl- tragedy hits London. Someone is murdering people in the same fashion and on the same days that Jack the Ripper struck years ago. Unfortunately, Rory is an eye witness to one of the murders and becomes part of the investigation. I can't say anything more about the subject because I don't want to give anything away. I can tell you, however that Rory is a character. She has a crazy family that she talks about unabashedly, sharp wit that made me laugh out loud, and loyalty to her friends. This is a great book for young adults and for the young at heart- just be prepared to read it from cover to cover. I can't wait for the next book in this series.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A creepy mystery with an awesome setting and excellent humor!, September 29, 2011
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This review is from: The Name of the Star (The Shades of London) (Hardcover)
When her parents move to England her senior year, Rory Devereaux agrees to go with them, as long as she can attend boarding school in London. The school and the people in it are a far cry from her tiny southern hometown, not far from New Orleans, but Rory likes her new roommate and is enjoying her school (well, except for maybe the field hockey part). Then, a murder is committed near the school, an exact replica of the first of the Jack the Ripper murders. And none of the security cameras in the area ever caught a glimpse of the killer. It doesn't take long for everyone in London to realize that there is a Ripper copycat on the loose, throwing the entire city into mayhem. Rory thinks that she's safe from it all, despite her proximity to the murder scenes, but when she is questioned by a secret branch of the London police, Rory finds that she is a lot closer to the real killer than she thought.

Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star is a fascinating and unique book! It is a bit different from her earlier, humor-driven work, but the writing is just as good as ever, and while the book isn't necessary serious, the mystery of the brutal deaths and the threat to Rory does have a bit of a sobering effect. That being said, there is still a lot of great humor in The Name of the Star, and some fantastic, quirky characters that entertain to no end. Rory is an excellent narrator--she's hardworking, funny, loyal, and when the going gets tough, she's a pretty noble person, even if the circumstances terrify her. The boarding school setting is a great one, with lots of fun and drama, and it's the perfect location for the Rippermania to take place. You'll learn a lot about London and the history of the Jack the Ripper murders throughout this book, and the combination of real facts and places with the special, secret police force Rory becomes involved in (which is a bit reminiscent of the early episodes of the TV show Torchwood) makes this book hard to put down. The Name of the Star is an intriguing, creepy mystery with an awesome setting and a great cast of characters. If the only complaint about it is the cruel cliffhanger of an ending, then you definitely need to pick this one up!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ominous and atmospheric Jack the ripper tale with the perfect ending, March 5, 2013
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I've had this book on my to read list for quite some time. I'm glad that I got around to reading it. I'm giving it 4.5 stars.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson stars Rory, a teen from Louisiana, who goes to London to attend school. She is quickly met with headlines proclaiming there is a new Jack the Ripper serial killer on the loose. While Rory is trying to maneuver living with a roommate and crushing on a cute guy who also is obsessed with Jack, the killer seems to be aware of her in a scary way. Things get a bit more paranormal, but I'll let the reader discover that for themselves.

I really enjoyed the writing of this book. The setting and mood were very London-ish and the book was well researched. I loved Rory and her crazy family back in Louisiana, and I enjoyed getting to know some of the supporting cast, which I won't go into as to not spoil any readers.

I agree with some of the other reviewers that in the middle it seems to stagnate a bit, and I thought this a solid four star novel for a while. Not to mention, the romance seemed pretty lackluster. But with a paranormal plot twist, and a terrific ending-- the only way it could have ended--I was impressed enough to give it another half star.

I believe Johnson is just getting started and is a promising new writer, and I'll definitely be picking up the next installment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gone with the Words review..., November 14, 2011
This review is from: The Name of the Star (The Shades of London) (Hardcover)
(This review was originally posted at GoneWithTheWords.com)

Was going to a British boarding school ever one of your dreams? If, like me, your answer is yes, then you're really going to enjoy the setting of this book. Not only is this boarding school co-ed, it's also in London, and the history of the building itself is super interesting. You get a lot of insight into how the school system works in England. It's really rigorous! Still, I would've loved to have gone to school there! Minus the murdering suspect, of course.

The crime spree is pretty gruesome, and the spectacle created by the media and the public was really believable. However, I did not find myself on the edge of my seat until things started happening to our protagonist. Once that happened, I was just as scared as her! One thing I loved was how funny Rory was at times, and also the smart, funny banter between her and her roommate and The Boy. There are some really cute flirty moments. I loved how Maureen described kissing in this excerpt:

"Kissing is something that makes up for a lot of the other crap you have to put up with in school, and as a teenager in general. It can be confusing and weird and awkward, but sometimes it just makes you melt and forget everything that is going on. You could be in a burning building or a bus about to fall off a cliff. It doesn't matter, because you are just a puddle." - pg. 282

So you read that part about the secret ghost police in the synopsis, right? I must confess, after they're introduced, I kept singing "Who you gonna call? GhostBusters!" in my head. Not that anything in the book directly relates to GhostBusters...well, except maybe the ghost busting part. Don't get me wrong! I dug it!! I liked the history and they way they become ghost police, it was just inevitable for me to not relate the two. This group takes care of one another under some dire circumstances sometimes . Here's another quote from the book where I loved how Maureen described bravery:

"It's not that I'm extremely brave--I think I just forgot myself for a minute. Maybe that's what bravery is. You forget you're in trouble when you see someone else in danger. Or maybe there is a limit to how afraid you can get, and I'd hit it." - pg. 307

Although I liked this book from the start, I wasn't completely sucked in until after halfway through, I would say. The ending was suspenseful and it left off on a very intriguing discovery!! I ended up really liking these characters and therefore I will definitely be looking forward to the next book in this series.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Give me more!, January 24, 2014
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.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Fun Ripper Book., September 20, 2012
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I saw this book on another authors favorite books of 2011 blog and I'm really glad that I did. This book was a very fun read. The characters all server their purposes nicely and you really do get a sense that Rory is an American living outside of her element here. It's not our typical take on the Ripper, something that i feel add's to the book, rather than detracts from it. My major gripe here is that it's too easy to figure out what is so special about Rory well before the author reveals it. Still, once I got over that it didn't stop me from enjoying this fine story.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique and Very Creative Take on a Ghost-Story, September 30, 2011
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This review is from: The Name of the Star (The Shades of London) (Hardcover)
The Name of the Star is a story about a girl named Rory who moves from New Orleans to London and then attends boarding school there. Now, you might be thinking.."not another boarding school" - but STOP RIGHT THERE. This book uses the boarding school for the setting and isn't just about running a muck in the halls. We accompany Rory as she settles into her new school, makes friends, and then..Jack the Ripper? Yes, people - Jack the Ripper. Someone is committing copycat murders from the late 19th century and turns out Rory saw him..when no one else did. Don't worry..when you read this book - you'll find out why.

This was, for me, an extremely entertaining thriller of a book. Not only did Maureen Johnson keep me captivated throughout the entire book, she blew me away with her creativity. She started the world-building to this awesome "secret ghost police of London" and I can't wait to know more about that world. Ms. Johnson has some rockin' imagination.

This was such a unique take on the idea of a "ghost-story" and is definitely one to read ASAP.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Abrupt and Aimless, December 9, 2012
I'll admit that I bought The Name of the Star because I am a big fan of Maureen Johnson's online presence. Her sometimes odd, but always funny, tweets always make me giggle. Because of that, I was sure that I would love this book.
I did not. I didn't even like it that much, to be honest. I have a lot of reasons why I didn't click with The Name of the Star. For starters, the writing. It was very abrupt. Rorie (the mc) would have a conversation with her new schoolmates, say something that cued an awkward silence, then would say "And that was the end of that conversation." or something similar. Over and over again. Rorie also spent an inordinate amount of time noting how much she liked Cheez Whiz and sausages. Sigh... I don't like sausages and I don't want to hear you observe, every morning, how much you like sausages.Unless they're the fun kind! (Yes, I had to go there.) And another thing (oh boy, am I on a roll), Rorie is from Louisiana, and guess what... she's quirky! Bet you didn't see that coming, did ya? She repeatedly reminds the reader where she's from, and that her Uncle Bick and Cousin Diane are oddballs. Here's the deal: I lived in Louisiana, and being from Louisiana does not automatically mean you are slightly touched in the head. Am I overly prickly about that? Maybe, but it freaking annoyed me, so there's that.

All of these random, trivial observations and conversations pretty much made up the first two hundred pages of The Name of the Star. I'm not even sure why I kept reading, other than the fact that I had to know, out of morbid curiosity and the fact I paid a lot of money for this book, what was going on with the Ripper-style killings. When the story turns to the mystery, instead of the sausages (thank god), it became much more interesting. I really liked the ghost police aspect. I found it to be clever and surprising. I never became all that interested in the identity of the killer, though the tension in the big showdown was good. The ending was just okay. When I finished, I simply closed my book and thought "Well, that happened." I'm fairly positive I won't continue with the series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll be buying the sequel!, March 24, 2014
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Interesting premise. Quick paced. Quirky characters to keep the dynamics going. You'll want to buy the sequel and preorder the 3rd book now!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I am American. People will assume I'm armed.", January 25, 2014
By 
Mary (AUSTIN, TX, United States) - See all my reviews
(Warning: Potential spoilers)

The Good

When I picked up this book, I didn’t know much anything about Jack the Ripper. The extent of my knowledge was that he was some dude who killed some chicks. I didn’t even know if he went on his bloody spree in America or somewhere else. So, this book was a real learning experience for me. It took me on a uniquely insightful journey through past & present London and the mythology of Jack the Ripper, without being overwhelmingly educational (I’m looking at you The Diviners). In addition to this excellent modern spin on Saucy Jack, this book also explores the psychology—namely citywide hysteria—that surrounds the Ripper history. It makes for an engaging read and it’s not nearly as much historical fiction as I originally thought though. On a different note, the book is also well structured with a decent pace and a clever ending. Not to mention, it’s quite hilarious. (see below quote)

Context: Main character Rory is from New Orleans talking to a Brit named Charlotte with a bad attitude

“I decided to deflect her attitude by giving a long, Southern answer. I come from people who know how to draw things out. Annoy a Southerner, and we will drain away the moments of your life with our slow, detailed replies until you are nothing but a husk of your former self and that much closer to death.”

The Bad

My biggest beef with this book is the character development. It may just be personal preference, but I feel like each character needs a “distinctive trait” (preferably a physical trait) that represents the character’s personality, such as Claudia’s booming voice. This helps the reader in a number of ways. First, it paints a more vivid picture of the character in the reader’s mind. I don’t think an author needs to give a detailed picture of a character—just one distinctive physical trait and then let the reader fill in the other details. Readers won’t remember all the finer details an author gives them. In my experience, once I have a picture of what I think that character looks like, I generally don’t change it much. Second, it makes it easier for the reader to remember what they need to know about that character. Claudia’s booming voice is a physical representation of her burly personality as head matron. With that association, it’s easier for a reader to put her into the story as they read along—rather than them having to stop and think about who she is. Granted, it’s not always like this, but I feel like sometimes characters like Claudia (and Claudia’s only a minor character!) who have a “distinctive trait” seem more complete than major characters who don’t, which brings me back to main point—several of the characters needed more development.

For starters, Jerome and Jazza. They just seemed a little bit bland most of the time and then I felt like they got left behind when things started to heat up in the hunt for the Ripper ghost. And why should the readers hate Charlotte? We were never given a very good reason to dislike her other than she had a bit of a haughty attitude. But Jazza hated her and Jazza is a good guy, so shouldn’t the readers hate her too? It wasn’t even distinctly clear why Jazza hated her and I think it would have been better if there had been some sort of incident that the reader could base their dislike on.

Also, I felt like Rory lacked a bit of character development. There were several times when I didn’t understand the choices she made. Or well there wasn’t enough development in her personality for me to justify some of her actions. However, we humans are fickle creatures who do unpredictable things all the time, so that’s not a solid complaint, but still.

The worst of them all was Callum, mainly because he played such a significant role in the climax of the story. The reader had only gotten Callum’s back story a couple of pages ago, but suddenly the bad guy was using this back story against Callum and we were seeing a whole new side of Callum that wasn’t there before. I feel like the climax would have felt much more sincere if there had been more hints of Callum’s dangerous side before this point—at least something the readers could have picked up on as a dramatic irony.

My only other complaint is that a couple of things happen out of the blue. If a story is set in a mostly realistic setting like this one, I find that the closer it sticks to realistic situations, the better. This one had a couple of “well, that sure was convenient” moments, but it wasn’t too bad. Really, this complaint is me being nit-picky.

Overall, this is a good read and I’d recommend it (and the audio book!) to anybody that’s interested. Sure, it’s flawed in a couple of spots, but even a beautiful diamond is flawed!
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The Name of the Star (The Shades of London)
The Name of the Star (The Shades of London) by Maureen Johnson (Hardcover - September 29, 2011)
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