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4.2 out of 5 stars
The Name of the Star (The Shades of London)
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2011
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
VINE VOICEon September 29, 2011
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
on November 14, 2011
(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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 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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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 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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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2011
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2012
I've seen Maureen Johnson speak twice. She is probably one of the funniest people I've ever met so it was hard for me to picture her writing about something as serious as the Jack The Ripper mystery. However, she does so with ease. Her voice is clear and the book is astute, well plotted and convincing. Don't get me wrong, there are funny parts in it too. Very funny. Rory, the main protagonist definitely has a touch of her creator. She is outgoing, extremely observant and humorous. I really liked Rory a lot. She is the type of girl that is interesting and fun and pretty easy going. She is also very caring and resourceful. I also like that she does have flaws and gets into a few embarrassing situations.

The other thing I liked about Rory and the book in general is that she is not boy crazy. She has a love interest, but it's kind of secondary or even tertiary. The scenes that do have them together and interacting are fun and sweet. They did not jump into their relationship right away either. Rory has a revelation one day after getting to know him. "I felt the like bloom in me." I remember that feeling!

It was a nice creepy read for me. Not overtly scary or gory, but it allowed that delicious chill up my spine. I also really enjoyed reading about some of the history (and mystery) of Jack The Ripper and how this historical character is still relevant today. It's interesting about how he really got his reputation. All the media and hype that occurred in this story reminds me of reality tv and how celebrities are created...from Paris Hilton to the Octomom. The media sure is powerful. As Jerome one of the characters who is an aficionado of Jack The Ripper states, "The Star got famous because of Jack The Ripper. They took the stories of these murders and created one of the first media superstars. And they did a really good job because here we are, over a hundred years later, still obsessed."

The writing itself is clever and the book flew by. Her simile's are unique and her descriptions are very perceptive. I love the way she describes the details of a ghost's movements.

There were a few details in the story that I'm not sure I understood, but they were very minor and didn't hinder my enjoyment. ***SPOILER ALERT: Also, the fact that there was footage of one of the murders where the victim could be seen and not the killer, I really do think that there would be people out there who would speak out and say it was indeed a ghost. However, there was really no mention of that. Most just theorized that the murderer somehow hacked the surveillance cameras. :END SPOILER ALERT***

The Name of the Star wraps up nicely yet leaves room for the subsequent sequels. This is the first Maureen Johnson book I've read and although I prefer stand alones I'm looking forward to continuing Rory's journey.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2012
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
'''''

The Name of the Star is about Aurora `Rory' Deveaux, who moves from Louisiana to a boarding school in London. Not long after she arrives gruesome murders begin to occur mimicking the work of Jack the Ripper. Rory becomes the only witness to one of these crimes when she sees a suspicious man on the school grounds - the only problem is that her friend Jazza didn't see anyone there.

This book pleasantly surprised me - in fact I'd have to say it blew me away. I had read Maureen Johnson's '13 Little Blue Envelopes' and enjoyed it, but not been entirely sold and didn't read the sequel. So when I picked this up I was a bit apprehensive- especially considering what passes for a `mystery' in some YA novels these days. The central idea was so fantastic I knew I had to give it a go, but I wasn't sure if it could be pulled off to the level I thought the premise deserved. I am so, so thrilled to have been wrong. From the start I could see how much Johnson had grown as a writer since Little Blue Envelopes. The spine-chilling atmosphere is palpable, and I was impressed by what Johnson made of the Jack the Ripper aspect.

What I Loved:
This is a well-crafted novel. It is clear that the plot is going somewhere, and by the end of the novel it is evident that the series is going somewhere too. That might seem like a given - shouldn't all books fulfil the requirement of a logical, thought out plot? Of course they should, but some YA novels are getting away with a nonsensical chain of events by covering it up with an all-consuming romance that is often, in a word, ridiculous. Even though these books do entertain and appeal to some readers, you could say that after reading books like Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick and Fallen by Lauren Kate, I have literary trust issues. Not so with this book. It's such a relief to start reading and quickly realise you're in good hands.

What Was Lacking:
I wasn't that bothered with the romance factor, It didn't seem to serve much purpose in this particular novel. That said, I'm optimistic that this will be a longer story arch that will follow through in forthcoming instalments.

Quote:
"Fear can't hurt you," she said. "When it washes over you, give it no power. It's a snake with no venom. Remember that. That knowledge can save you."

Give this book a go if you enjoy a thriller/murder mystery with a paranormal twist, its one of the best new YA releases out there.

This review and more at my:
Blog:
[...]
Twitter:
@100bookproject
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2011
This may be hard to believe, but this is my first Maureen Johnson book. I've stalked her on Twitter for a long time, and she is a riot, to say the least, so I was excited to see how that translated into her writing. I probably didn't pick the best example of her comic side, but I definitely enjoyed The Name of the Star.....well, as much as anyone CAN enjoy a book about a guy that's killing people.

It feels wrong to be fascinated by Jack the Ripper, a man who brutally murdered at least four women in 1888, but that's exactly what's happened to the town that Rory has moved to, and I found myself swept up in the Ripper frenzy right along with them. This book was creepy, on multiple levels. I definitely recommend reading or listening to this at night, to get the full effect. There were a lot of interesting facts, and quite a few gory details, that I had never heard about Jack the Ripper in the story. Maureen did a good job interweaving all these details into the plot, and not making the jump from present to past choppy. I loved that not everything is what it seems.

I liked Rory a lot. She was fun-loving and adventurous, but at the same time just trying find her place in this new world she's found herself in. Not only London, but also her part in this new Ripper mystery. The romance was cute, but not anything spectacular. I felt like her relationship with Jerome was sweet, but very surface. I'll be surprised if they stay together in the future books in the series, and I'm ok with that. The only thing that bothered me about Rory was that there are a few hints that are dropped in the story about the killer and the mystery, that are pretty obvious to us as readers, but that Rory is oblivious to. This makes her come across as.....not quite as intelligent as I would have liked.

Overall, though, I thought this was an exciting and suspenseful book that I'm happy that I got a chance to listen to.

Book Doppelgangers: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, Deception by Lee Nichols, Clarity by Kim Harrington

Content:

Sexual Content: Mild
Profanity: Moderate
Violence: Heavy
Other Notables: Legal Drinking (in England)

For more details, check out The Name of the Star on ParentalBookReviews.com

-Andye
Readingteen.net
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