Mini-Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Posted 6 February, 2012 by Amanda / 16 Comments

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
(Shades of London, #1)

Genre: YA, Paranormal, Mystery
Format: hardcover
Read: 1/9/2012 — 1/10/2012
In Six Words: A great introduction to Maureen Johnson!

Maureen Johnson — Website | Blog | Twitter
Amazon — Hardcover | Kindle
Add it to Goodreads

Book Order

1. The Name of the Star
2. The Madness Underneath (October 2012)


The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.
-from Goodreads


I think I first saw The Name of the Star on Ruby’s Reads.  I had no idea who Maureen Johnson was.  It sounded like an intriguing premise, so I added it to my TBR list AND started following Maureen Johnson on Twitter.  Following her on Twitter only made me more anxious to read The Name of the Star (mostly because Maureen Johnson is hilarious and entertaining).  I picked up The Name of the Star for my first Bout of Books 3.0 read, and I was definitely not disappointed.

It took me only a few pages to fall in love with Rory and her dry sarcasm and general quirkiness.  Rory’s move and adjustment to living in London was both amusing and believable.  I’m always a little concerned about whether culture shock is believable in stories (both because I’ve gone through it myself and because I’ve researched it for my thesis) but it was handled well here.  Reading The Name of the Star made me want to go to boarding school in London.  And that is something that I didn’t think I would ever say.  I did also very much enjoy the side characters.  Maureen Johnson has a way of giving the side characters just enough quirks to make them memorable and interesting.

The Name of the Star is both paranormal and a mystery.  I didn’t find the story to be particularly scary, though I’m not easily scared with books.  I thought the mystery was a slow burner, but one that was eerie and freaky, and addicting, once I really got into the story.  I love a good paranormal, but I think what I loved even more about The Name of the Star is that it seemed to straddle the line between paranormal and mystery.  I have not read many paranormals where the main (or only) paranormal creature were ghosts, and due to the nature of how the world and the “secret ghost police of London” are set up, Rory’s world is actually quite believable.  Though The Name of the Star is the first in a series, there is no cliffhanger (NONE!) and it can easily be read as a stand alone.

Filed under: ESR: 8, Mystery, Paranormal, Review: Amanda, YA, ,


16 Responses to “Mini-Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson”

  1. I’ve always been morbidly fascinated by Jack the Ripper lore, so this one went straight on my to-read list the moment I realized what it was about. Unfortunately, I’ve read several not so quite positive reviews since then, and I’ve been kind of wishy-washy about reading it. You’ve definitely convinced me again though!

  2. I’ve read really mixed reviews for this one so I’m glad to see you enjoyed it Amanda! And the fact that it doesn’t have a cliffhanger is a complete win in my book. I almost don’t even remember what it’s like to read a book that doesn’t have one:)

  3. I’ve been following Maureen on Twitter for a while and she is a riot!! It’s one of the reasons I wanted to read this book because if she’s that funny and interesting on Twitter then maybe the same could be said for her book.

    It’s the synopsis though that made me add this book to my #RAK wishlist and TBR. A modern day ghost-filled Jack The Ripper mystery in London? SOLD!!

    Glad to know that you enjoyed it!

  4. I loved Rory! I also am a Jack the Ripper fan so this was an easy one for me to pick up. I liked how it tied to the paranormal stuff, but it made me wonder where the next one will go. Guess I’ll have to find out!

  5. I have read some of Johnson’s older books so I was really excited to try this one. I liked it but I had some issues with the mixture between the Jack murders and her supernatural powers. I guess I would have liked it better had it just been about her ability to see ghosts, the Jack stuff felt out of place for me.

    I’m glad you liked this one and I agree it wasn’t really scary.

    Hope we both like the second book a little more.

    Thanks for the great review.

  6. I really enjoyed this one as well when I read it last year!! I can’t wait to read more by this author (and hopefully soon!) I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it as well!

    • It’s my understanding that most of Maureen Johnson’s books are contemporary, which I don’t read a lot of, but based on my enjoyment of this book, I’d definitely pick up another one.

    • Amy, do you follow Maureen Johnson on Twitter? She’s got the same kind of humor in this book. Based on how much I liked this one, I’m willing to try other books by Maureen Johnson, even though they didn’t necessarily appeal to me before.