Book Review: The Name of the Star

The Name of The Star
by Maureen Johnson

Release date: September 29, 2011
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Genre: Young adult paranormal
Copy origin: Preordered via

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.

Maureen Johnson and I have the same birthday.

I know that’s an odd thing to start off a review with, but hear me out. Maureen Johnson is kinda one of the coolest people I’ve ever come across on Twitter. She’s witty, hilarious, and she’s absolutely adorable. I have a massive crush on her, and I’ve always viewed the fact that she’s a writer and we share a birthday to mean that we are soulmates and will one day get married and— okay, I’m getting into creepy territory now. Sorry. (If Maureen ever reads this, I will be especially sorry. Though if she ever wants to go out, y’know, for coffee, that would be cool.)

That said, she has always written contemporary fiction. Now, there’s nothing wrong with contemporary fiction, but it’s not really my thing. I like dark & urban fantasy. I like post-apocalyptic. I like horror, and ghosts, and zombies. Not a whole lot of those in Maureen’s past work.

Meanwhile, rewind to Ley, aged thirteen, discovering a hardcover with a ratty old dust-cover on her mother’s shelf: The Complete Jack the Ripper, by Donald Rumbelow, a very thorough portrait of the Great Victorian Mystery, complete with photographs and sketches. Needless to say, little morbid Ley had nightmares for months. Nothing has ever terrified me as much as that book.

Okay, now fast-forward to Ley discovering The Name of the Star. Understandably, I was excited beyond belief. I had high, high hopes for this book. A part of me expected to be very, very disappointed.

I was not disappointed.

This book takes so many of my favourite things, and smooshes them all together: Maureen’s distinctive voice, Jack the Ripper, British boarding schools, ghosts, and broody men. It’s a smooth read, lots of fun, and even has it’s dark, gritty moments. Not as much gore as one would expect from a book featuring the modern Jack the Ripper, but it still had its moments. I felt like the Jack the Ripper geek in me and the Maureen Johnson fangirl in me were frolicking together in a field, surrounded by daisies and sunshine. I never expected that to happen.

So, what did I discover? I still have a crush on Maureen Johnson. And I can’t necessarily say I’ll pick up some of her other books—Maybe! But I make no promises!—but I will definitely be pre-ordering the next book in this series.

Other notes:

    • I really, really hate the cover for this book. Nothing about it screams The Name of the Star to me. It makes it look like historical fiction. I much prefer the original ARC cover. Not that either of the covers are actually showing Rory, the main character.
      The inclusion of a chav midway through the book made me terribly pleased. It’s not a proper book about teens in London if there isn’t a chav.
      Go watch Maureen Johnson’s fantastic interview about the origins of the book, and all about her Twittering.