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The Madness Underneath: Book 2 (The Shades of London) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 26, 2013

4.0 out of 5 stars 103 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Shades of London Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up-This continuation of the series opens as Rory is recovering from a brutal attack by a ghost mimicking Jack the Ripper's grisly murders. She is persuaded by her therapist to leave the family's Bristol home, return to her London boarding school, and resume a normal life. However, life will never again be "normal" for Rory. She discovers that she is a "terminis" and has the ability to permanently extinguish ghosts. The British squad of those with the ability to see ghosts and monitor their activity recruits her help to investigate an unexplained death near campus. It appears that an evil force is moving through the underground, causing death and destruction. The opening chapters bring readers up to date, recapping previous events and characters and, in the process, revealing the plot in The Name of the Star (Putnam, 2011). The action picks up considerably in the final chapters. Readers will remain on the edge of their seats as the leader of a cult that follows the ancient Eleusinian Mysteries drugs and kidnaps Rory, hoping to use her extraordinary powers to defeat death. Johnson's sharp wit is ever-present, and her heroine is the perfect blend of snark and teen anxiety. Rory finds romance, but is it destined to end? Readers will anxiously await the final installment in the series to learn the fate of this Eleusinian cult, and to find out if a girl who can annihilate ghosts has a future with one very hot guy.-Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Rory might have escaped death at the hands of a Jack the Ripper copycat in The Name of the Star (2011), but the experience has left her with the skill of a terminus: the ability to dispatch ghosts from our plane of existence. In an attempt to reclaim her former life, Rory returns to boarding school, where she and her friends at a clandestine British government ghost squad stumble upon evidence that the remains of an old psychiatric hospital, right beneath the school, is stirring up otherworldly activity. The propulsive thrills of the Edgar Award–nominated first volume are largely missing here. The hospital idea, a juicy one, never galvanizes into a strong plotline, and Rory’s goals as a supernatural operative feel vague. Thankfully, Johnson’s handling of the normal problems of teenhood—boys, school, and so on—is agile, humorous, and real. Many of Rory’s constant jokes fall flat, but, hey, that’s realistic, too. The best news? The final 50 pages roar back to life with a turnaround so creepy it bolsters confidence in the next volume of the Shades of London series. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Johnson is one of YA lit’s perennial favorites, and an author tour will help keep this series on many must-read lists. Grades 8-11. --Daniel Kraus

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 650L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Shades of London (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (February 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039925661X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399256615
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #700,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By KVB99 on February 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a sequel to the Name of the Star (TNOS), but it doesn't have quite the same sizzle as TNOS. The story picks up with Rory in Bristol in therapy and lingers there a bit too long. This story needed a strong start right out of the gate, like TNOS, but it flounders, treading water for several chapters in Bristol, where not that much happens. Finally Rory does return to Wexford, but not really. Rory never really re-integrates in Wexford and we don't see that fun interaction with her Wexford circle of friends like we did in TNOS, IMO a big let-down. Also, Rory is now this big ghosty terminus, but there is surprisingly little ghosty encounters here. So, too little Wexford and too little ghosts. These were two big legs of the stool that made TNOS such a fun read. What we have in place of this is a rather weird cult story that develops rather late in the book. The cult thing was not developed very well and I found it to be rather laughably implausible and uninteresting. And then there's the ending. Initially I didn't like it at all, but having slept on it I'm not going to ding the book for it. It's not the way I would have ended the book, but I can see that this is a legitimate direction for the story to take. On the plus side, Rory continues to be a very engaging character and the author's sassy writing style really brings Rory to life. My gripe is with the tepid story in which Rory is placed.
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Format: Hardcover
I was excited when I pre-ordered The Madness Underneath. There were two big reasons for this. 1) I loved The Name of the Star and was excited to see where the story went next.

2) ...it came with kick-ass stickers.

Stickers aside, I was relieved to find that my anticipation had not been for nothing. Maureen Johnson's voice in Rory is just as fresh as ever. I wanted the girl to be my BFF from time to time because... well, I suspect Rory is secretly a Tumblr user when she explains her reason for doing something with "Because Stephen."

The Madness Underneath is not QUITE as spooky or fast-paced as The Name of the Star. The sense of danger isn't as omnipresent because there's a little less mystery about the killings. The Madness Underneath is more about Rory finding her own path, while still being a hilarious ghostbuster.

One thing I appreciate with Maureen Johnson's series is that, when we have swoony times, it's not all about the ONE TRUE LOVE thing. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love those books too, but Johnson seems keenly aware of reality in that her characters as teenagers and likely will not be with the first person they date forever.

BUT in regards to OTP happiness, never have my emotions swerved so quickly in 180 degree-type turn. One minute I'm overjoyed, the next, I was SCREAMING. And then the book ended. Because I think perhaps Maureen Johnson practices reader torture in her spare time.

To sum up: I loved this book, but lord am I WAILING over the end. I need a support line to call.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the second book in the series and I enjoyed as much as the first --so much so that I'm looking forward to the next volume--great pacing and action, the heroine is eminently likeable and the premise of the stories stands out in a sea of mediocre YA supernatural themed novels. Bravo!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've seen some reviews talk about how this book isn't as good as Name of the Star, which of course is the first book of the series (Shades of London). But I disagree. While it may not contain the same amount of suspense as the first book, I think Madness Underneath does a really great job at following up on the life of Rory and her friends and of course the next chapter. There is far more character development on the part of Rory, we learn a great deal more about the other Shades (Stephen especially), the Sight and the book introduces a much larger plot. In my opinion, Madness Underneath is a far more interesting than the first book. It was so interesting, in fact, that I read the book rather quickly. Less than a week, even on my busy schedule. I'm rabid to find out where Maureen Johnson is going to take the series.

I discovered the series simply because I happened upon Johnson on twitter (if you don't follow her, you should...she's hilarious). After about a year of her antics on twitter, I decided to pick up the series. I don't know that her other books would be all that interesting to me - a 35 year old father of two - but this series really hits home. The concept is surreal and completely believable at the same time. She weaves an incredible storyline into the rich London culture, and she does it flawlessly. The only problem...I'm going to have to wait a while for the third book. :(

So yeah, bottom line...this book is awesome.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If at any point during the first, say, 3/4 of this book you had asked me what I'd rate it, I'd have said five stars. Hands down. The writing is so smooth. I simply *like* Rory as a character. Love the voice, the fact that she really is an average girl, totally easy to relate to. I was sucked in, reading along, just loving it...until, I realized everything I thought was subtly building up to something was not.

The fact is, nothing really happens until the very end, and then it all happens very quickly and unimpressively. This entire book feels like a bridge. Like, well, time needs to pass so *the big ending twist* can happen, and we can actually move into the real story the author had in mind.

It's hard, too, to write about what frustrates me because it's directly related to the end. It truly could have been just as twisty--and would have had MORE impact, if the whole Jane part of the plot had been left out and things focused on Rory and the Shades. That's all I'll say.

I'll still read the next book, because I have a feeling the author will be tying a lot of the loose strings together and despite it all I just love the author's writing. But for now, I'm frustrated with how this one ended--enough to knock two stars off my rating.
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