Sunday, September 2, 2012

Book Review: The Name of the Star

Despite the fact that I follow Maureen Johnson on twitter (and really love her twitter) I haven't read that many of her books. I've read Suite Scarlet (which I didn't really like) and then the two Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes books (which I did) so initially I was only a bit curious about her new series. But then her publisher kindly put up over 50 pages as a preview and I was hooked. Sadly the book came out over the holiday season last year so I couldn't buy it (and I haven't been this tempted to blind-buy a book where I haven't read any other volumes in the series in a long time) but thankfully it showed up at my local library this summer and I was able to finally read the rest of it.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

A nice cover which, for the hardcover, also has an interesting texture to it (and I mean that in the most literal way possible, it's not quite raised but it has a very slightly more bumpy feeling to it than most covers do). There's something about the colors that feels just a little off to me but it's a good, fairly unique looking image which combined with a title that has no immediate connection to the image (Jack the Ripper fans will probably spot it right away however) and it's a good, grabbing cover. 

Summary: Rory is excited to spend her senior year of high school in London not because her hometown in Lousiana is boring but because London is different and exciting. Really exciting as it turns out since someone is going around and imitating Jack the Ripper and Rory's school is right smack in the middle of all the old crime scenes. And nobody has a clue how these crimes are being pulled off even when they have the CCTV footage right in front of them, it's almost like the ghost of Jack the Ripper itself has come back.....

The Good: One thing that I liked a lot about Thirteen Little Blue Envelops was how the characters were realistically weird with a quirkiness that I don't often find in fiction but find a lot in real life. Johnson has once again nailed this, Rory feels like a completely believable character and so do the others, their interactions and relationships also feel perfectly natural for high schoolers. On the flip side of things, I like how the supernatural was integrated into the story and felt like just enough was explained for a first book in a series and in-series that the characters explained everything they already knew. I'm really curious to see where the series goes next, some of the events in the ending went quite differently than I expected, maybe this time I'll be able to buy it right when it comes out!

The Bad: There wasn't much I disliked about the book actually, I felt like some of the side characters dropped out around two-thirds of the way through but since this is a series there's a good chance they'll come back later so I can't complain. I am also a little worried/curious about what the plot of the next two books will revolve around since, if you were to cut out one scene, the story would be entirely self-contained. But even that isn't a really bad thing, or at least it's something that's a bit silly to be worried about at this point.

If I had gotten a chance to read this book back in 2011 it almost certainly would have been on my favorite books of the year list, 2011 was actually a really good year for me when it came to YA books. Come to think of it, there haven't been many books at all that did/will come out in 2012 that I was/am excited for (only three or four I think) and while I have read a few books from this year already I haven't been grabbed as strongly by them either, perhaps that's why I've been reading more adult fiction that usual this year.....

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