The Name of the Star

Author: Maureen Johnson
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Speak
Source: Personal find
Genre(s): YA, Science Fiction, Paranormal, Historical Fiction
Spoilers: Mild

Rating: ★★★★☆
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Rory is a Louisiana native who just started attending a boarding school in London,  England. Despite all of the cultural barriers like celebrities, tv shows, and the lack of sausage, she adjusts pretty well, and finds a life in Wexford. That is, until she has a near death experience and starts seeing ghosts.

So I don’t spoil the rest for you all, I’m just going to go on and tell you about how brilliantly constructed this book is. First off, we have a super easy to relate to character, Rory.  She’s an American living in England. I’m sure almost everyone who is reading this has felt out of place, or has moved, or just felt really awkward at some point in their life. Rory handles it just like any one of us – with as much awkwardness as possible, and a dash of charming naivety. While she assimilates into the new culture, she doesn’t lose anything that makes her special. Plus, there are the added glimpses of her just being an all out tourist and enjoying every minute of it.

The secondary characters of Jazza, Boo and the ghost busting gang,  and Jerome are fleshed out to real people that you can relate to too. Who hasn’t been super studious like Jazza, or let it all hang loose like Boo? And the awkward love scenes between Rory and Jerome are adorable. Johnson does an amazing job at making all of these characters feel like real flesh and blood.  The main bad guy, Newman, is also someone that you will be checking over your shoulder for. Johnson took the idea of the Ripper and turned it into something that feels like it could happen today. She spared no expense in creeping her readers out just enough to check behind the curtain and under the bed. Even with all of the creepiness going on with Newman, the logic she puts behind his motives is even worse, or better depending on your level of enjoyment in psychological thrillers.

The Name of the Star is one of those books that you won’t want to put down once you start it. It is a nice read that ties everything together, but leaves you wanting more. Luckily, there is another book in this series to read, and a third on the way. So while you are out picking up, or downloading, this book, be sure to get The Madness Underneath. You won’t want to miss the next book in the series, even if the first book feels mostly complete.

Final Thoughts:
This book combines everything you would want in a good, modern ghost story. A realistic main character, a plausible explanation for seeing, an undercover agency, and a truly despicable villain. I am a big fan of how Johnson writes, and love how she manages to keep the tourist in Rory alive even though she’s rarely out in the town. It’s overall one of those super easy, but highly enjoyable books that will keep you waiting for the next one, but if you finish just this first one you won’t feel like there are a ton of loose ends either. I liked it, and am looking forward to reading the next one (and pre-ordering the third).

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