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The Name of the Star

Review

The Name of the Star

When Louisiana-born Aurora (Rory) Deveaux arrives in London to attend Wexford University, she has no idea that her time there is going to be so life-altering. As an incoming American student, she stands out from the others, who are mostly native to the area. But accents and strange English expressions aside, Rory is ready to dive in, to be independent and even to play hockey --- since that seems to be the English thing to do. Like any new student, she is concerned about roommates, knowing that the right kind of roommate can make or break the year.

Rory’s first day is filled with new faces, names, an awkwardly fitting uniform, a bossy head girl named Charlotte, and a very interesting guy named Jerome. When she falls asleep that first night, reports of a “ripper-like murder” only slightly faze her. What’s a ripper, anyway?

The next day she meets her new roommate, Jazza. Perfect! Classes are okay, except hockey (how did she get talked into that one?). She also shares an art class with the fascinating Jerome. On one of their many jaunts through the National Art Gallery, they collaborate on an art project and choose “butts” as their theme.

Rory meets her second roommate, “Boo,” and is totally frustrated by her. She has a certain sharpness along with a devil-may-care attitude that drives the other two crazy. Boo is clingy and messy; she’s everything they didn’t want. Behind the messy glitz and sparkle, however, Boo is much more than she appears.

In a frightening moment during lunch in the cafeteria, Rory chokes on her food and passes out for a few minutes. She wakes up in the refectory, thoroughly embarrassed. Unknown to her, however, her “near-death” experience has changed her life --- she can now see ghosts. And Wexford, not to mention the rest of London, is full of ghosts. Of course, this is not something she tells anyone; even she can’t begin to understand what has happened to her or what it means.

On the upper floor of the school library, Rory meets Alistair, who hangs mostly in the poetry and literature area and knows the library better than anyone. He proves to be a great source of homework help, and despite the spiky hair and weird clothing, he is definitely one of Wexford’s best scholars. Alistair soon becomes someone special in Rory’s life, as does Jo, the woman who dresses in a drab kind of suit and collects garbage but always has a friendly smile and a kind word. Rory is finally beginning to feel at home --- but when she has an unfortunate run-in with the ripper one night, she suddenly becomes a full-fledged victim of his horror. While her parents fret over her safety and her friends (some of whom do not “live” in this world) try to offer protection, the madman continues to get closer. Is she the next victim?

Maureen Johnson, who has authored excellent teen books, such as the Scarlett series and THIRTEEN LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES, is now thrilling her fans with THE NAME OF THE STAR, the first book in a series called Shades of London. The novel is full of unexpected turns, wonderfully developed personalities, and absolutely terrifying moments. Johnson’s quick wit and fast-paced dialogue are cleverly intermingled with the ghastly reality of the characters’ lives. Peopled with ghosts, a new kind of “ghostbuster” team called The Shades, and a powerful madman who wrecks havoc while leaving a trail of mutilated, dead women in his wake, THE NAME OF THE STAR is an unputdownable book that will surely satisfy the mystery/horror lover in all of Johnson’s readers.

Reviewed by on November 7, 2011

The Name of the Star
by Maureen Johnson

  • Publication Date: October 2, 2012
  • Genres: Thriller
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Speak
  • ISBN-10: 0142422053
  • ISBN-13: 9780142422052