Friday, September 4, 2015

The Name of the Star

by Maureen Johnson
narrated by Nicola Barber

Summary from GoodReads

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.

Thoughts on the Book

This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time (like years).  I love love love Jack the Ripper.  I find him completely fascinating, the mystery of it, the brutality of it - how could someone do that to another person????, the media frenzy around it.  What's not to love?  I'm also a big fan of Maureen Johnson.  So why did it take me so long to read?  I met Maureen and she signed my copy.  With my love of Jack and my love of her I really really didn't want to damage my copy.  My boyfriend and I went to the library before our big road trip and I saw this sitting nicely on the audio-book shelf and I super excitedly grabbed it, while he groaned and commented that we had more than enough books to get us to Canada and back.  I don't think he regretted me grabbing this one though :)

My Review

This book is about Rory, a southern belle from Louisiana who goes to boarding school in London's East End to spend some time away from Louisiana to be more cultured.  She becomes great friends with her roommate and her roommate's friends and struggles with the culture shock of British school versus American school.  The day Rory arrives in London the first of "Jack's" victim's was found, August 31st.  The murders are more of a background thing at first, but after the double murder on September 30th the murders and the search for the culprit come more to the forefront of the story.

I loved this book.  I loved every second of this book.  I'll start with Nicola Barber.  Best voice actress ever!  Her accents were unbelievable - so damn good, no one can be that awesome.  I love how no one sounded the same, even the regular narration voice was totally different from the characters.  Rory's slight southern accent, Jazza's posh English accent,  Boo's more urban London accent, Callum's Irish accent.  Everything was so good!  I don't think I can read the rest of this series, I just have to listen to Nicola read it to me.

Now for the nitty gritty of the book.  I loved how Jerome was so into the murders, I would have acted the exact same way (did I mention that I absolutely love Jack the Ripper?).  He was the most relatable character to me.  The other character besides Jerome I could identify the most with was Jazza.  She's so serious and down to earth about stuff.  

Rory was a great protagonist, while not the best I've ever read, she was definitely up there close to the best.  She was very realistic, she had a good balance of things that needed to be done and enjoying herself.  I especially enjoyed how her romantic relationship was told.  It just happened in the background, it wasn't all encompassing, and it wasn't over the top like so many other YA romances are.

As for the Shades, Stephen was interesting.  I like him, and I can't wait to learn more about it, his past was tragic and he's very closed off to everyone, but I have a feeling he's going to start opening up a bit more, at least to Rory.  Callum I loved, he's such a fun character.  There's so much going on with him, his past was awful as well, but it made him angry where it made Stephen withdrawn.  Boo was also a great character, but she was probably my least favorite, at least of the main characters.  She actually reminded me a lot of Jess's older sister Pinky from Bend it Like Beckham.
Pinky from Bend it Like Beckham

The pacing of the book was great too.  It didn't jump over things, time marched on at a steady pace throughout.  Things didn't happen super fast (I'm getting sick of characters falling madly in love in 3 days, or becoming the best of friends in a day. Really people?  This doesn't happen.) and when they did happen it felt like the natural progression of things.  I also loved that Rory still kept in touch with her friends back home.  While her, Jazza, Jerome, and later Boo became close friends she still didn't ditch her friends.  Sure she didn't talk about them much, but she'd drop hints that she still kept in touch with them.  

I also loved the end of the story. It was so unpredictable, even thinking back over the events there was no foreshadowing of the conclusion, but it didn't feel like it came out of left field.  I completely agreed with Rory for why she was so creeped out everything that was going on.  The very end was awesome as well, I can't wait to read the next in the series!

Overall I give this a 10/10.  Great characters, great story, great pacing, and the best narration I've heard.

Book Rating: 10/10
Narration Rating: 11/10

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