Putnam Juvenile, 372 pages
"A modern-day thriller about Rory, an American high-school student who enrolls at a London boarding school for her junior year. Soon after her arrival, a series of murders begins to take place across the city—on the exact dates and in the exact style of Jack the Ripper. Rory’s ties to the killer bring her in contact with a secret paranormal branch of the British police, as they attempt to stop the mysterious killer."
I will admit, this is my first Maureen Johnson book. Her more famous novels are 13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Bermudez Triangle. I had heard great things about Maureen Johnson and decided to give her most recent book a try. Sadly, I was let down. The Name of the Star had the potential to be great, but the plot just really took a turn that I didn't particularly like.
Rory is spending her senior year at a London boarding school, and just as she arrives, there are people being murdered. Not just murdered, but the dead bodies that are killed are also mutilated by so called Jack the Ripper. Rory was an okay character. At the end of the novel she had some development, but the way that the conflict was resolved seemed a little too simple. Another character I had a hard time understanding was Jerome, Rory's love interest. The romance was not very romantic to say the least. To be completely honest, I felt there was no need for a romance. Although I love romance, I would have been content if there wasn't one. The love interest just added to the plot, which I already had a problem with. A lot of the background characters were simply that, background characters. None of them particularly stood out and that's another reason why I was turned off. If a book doesn't have the best plot, then it surely better have amazing characters that I can relate to. I didn't feel any emotional connection to any of the characters, therefore, I didn't really care what happened to them.
The plot was a little off-kilter. At the beginning I was intrigued. I really like the entire plot centered around a boarding school and Jack the Ripper sounded interesting. But there came a point in the novel where I sat there wondering why the plot turned the way it did. I don't want to give anything away, but I will say that there are ghosts in this novel and it was the one aspect that turned me off. Also, I was surprisingly not scared at all. You'd think a murderer mutilating bodies would put you on edge just the tiniest bit, but I was in no way afraid. I wanted it to be creepier or darker.
Maureen Johnson does do some amazing writing. I really enjoy her style; it made reading through the plot I didn't like easier. The entire writing about the boarding school and London I found awesome. It made me want to know more about that rather than the ghost mystery.
Overall, The Name of the Star wasn't a horrible book, but it definitely isn't something I particularly enjoyed. I know Maureen Johnson has some other great books out there, so I hope to read those and grow to like her work. The characters and the plot just really weren't anything to write home about. If you were considering reading The Name of the Star, I might take a step back and decide if you have a real interest in ghosts and Jack the Ripper background information. If not, I wouldn't pick up this novel.
Rating: 2 stars - I didn't like it. Barely worth borrowing.