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.
Hardcover, 372 pages
Published September 29th 2011 by Putnam Juvenile
Four Stars: A thrilling mystery that is witty and scary!
Rory slops through the cold rain, wondering why on earth she didn't wear more sensible shoes than flip flops to London. She is set to start her senior year at the elite boarding school Wexford. Far behind are her humble Louisiana roots, but she is going to make the best of it. On the day of arrival, someone has committed a grisly murder that is a copy of the famous first murder in the Jack the Ripper case. The crime puts everyone on edge, and then the second copycat murder throws London into a panic. Who is committing the Jack the Ripper style murders and why?
What I Liked:
- First and foremost I absolutely adored Rory. She is snarky and hilarious as she relates her experiences of growing up in the swamplands of Louisiana. I love how she managed to hold her own among some of her uptight English classmates. When she feels intimated she launches into a ridiculous true life experience that will get you giggling. She isn't over the top sarcastic which I liked. I admired her courage as well, especially when facing an extremely dark and dire situation at the end.
- I enjoyed the mystery in this one and the suspense. Ms. Johnson manages to pull you in with her Jack the Ripper story and keep you enthralled. I have adequate knowledge of Jack the Ripper, but I learned a great deal from reading this book. The story is packed with plenty of Ripper history, from the facts to the conjectures and so forth. Ms. Johnson did her research on this one and I loved learning more about the infamous killer.
- I was surprised with the turn of events at the half way point, and was pleased to find that this book took on a whole new dimension as it incorporated ghosts and ghost hunters. I won't go into too much detail to avoid the surprise, but I can tell you that this book starts out as a suspenseful murder mystery and then transforms into something different. I liked that the story took me in an unexpected direction.
- This was a quick, fun read and I was completely absorbed into the story from the get go. Rory's witty banter pulls you in, and then the murder mystery holds you prisoner. I enjoyed that this one refrained from love triangles, cliffhangers and that it proved to be unexpected.
And The Not So Much:
- I wasn't completely convinced of the killer's motives. They didn't fully make sense. I could see why he wanted the fame and how he got pleasure from the terror and chaos he reeked, but why he would want to draw attention to himself in the first place was perplexing. The people he sought would likely not have bothered with him in the first place.
- The romance felt out of place in this one. Rory becomes involved with one of her classmates. It is sudden, and not developed. I didn't feel the romance was a good fit for this story, and it felt like an afterthought. By the end of the book, I was convinced that it will probably not continue as it didn't have a strong basis to begin with.
The Name of the Star was a quick, entertaining read that has been languishing in my to be read pile for far too long. Once I picked this book up, I was sucked into the story and I very much enjoyed the wit, mystery and unexpected in this one. I especially enjoyed all the Jack the Ripper detail. If you are looking for an exciting, murder mystery based on the infamous Jack the Ripper grab this one!
"In my town, Be`nouville, Louisiana (pronounced locally as Ben-ah-VEEL; population 1,700), hurricane preparations generally include buying more beer, and ice to keep that beer cold when the power goes out."
"Where I come from, it's too hot to run, and it's generally not encouraged. The joke is, if you see someone running in Be`nouville, you run in the same direction, because there's probably something really terrible right behind them."
"Annoy a Southerner, and we will drain away the moments of your life with our slow, detailed replies until you are nothing but a husk of your former self and that much closer to death."
I borrowed a copy of this book. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance. But Rory's brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she's become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades—the city's secret ghost-fighting police—are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it's too late. In this follow-up to the Edgar Award-nominated The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson adds another layer of spectacularly gruesome details to the streets of London that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
Hardcover, 290 pages
Published February 26th 2013 by Putnam Juvenile
Two Stars: A chaotic middle book with a dreadful ending!
Rory is trying to push away the memories of that terrifying night when she confronted the modern day Jack the Ripper. Unfortunately, the long slashing scar across her abdomen is a constant reminder. Rory is trapped in Bristol with her parents and her therapist, but she longs to return to London and reunite with Jazza and Jerome as well as her ghost hunter friends, Stephen, Callum and Boo. She recently discovered that something else happened that night, and Rory somehow has become a human terminus and she is now able to eradicate ghosts. Unexpectedly, Rory's therapist urges her to go back to Wexford and attempt to slip back into her former life. Can Rory return to London and regain her former life?
What I Liked:
- I liked that this one picked up right where the first book left off. We catch up with Rory as she is battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and trying to make sense of her new ability. This book focuses mainly on Rory's discovery of herself and finding her path. Will she pick up her studies and lead an ordinary life, or will she chase ghosts? It is a difficult decision and I enjoyed watching her grow as she tried to work everything out. I was also pleased to see that she retained her snark and that once again we are treated to plenty of off the wall Rory stories. I personally think that Rory needs to take a trip home to Louisiana so we can meet some of her zany relatives.
- The romance, as I thought, goes in the direction that I was expecting. It does take the entire book to get there, and then it just bursts forth unexpectedly, but I just knew who Rory was going to end up with. I am, however, in agony now wondering if book three will have a fully developed romance. Don't worry if you think there is a love triangle, thankfully, there is not.
- Stephen was much more developed in this book and I really enjoyed getting to know him. He seems to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders and there is just something so endearing about him. I enjoyed seeing him take charge especially when he comes to the rescue. He is much more prominent in this book and I liked that.
And The Not So Much:
- I don't know where to begin with the faults for this book. While I really enjoyed The Name of the Star because it had such a great mystery, this book pales in comparison. It starts out with a chilling ghostly murder scene that leads you to believe you are in for another sinister murder mystery, and then the book just flails around from one story line to another without really grasping anything as a main focus, unless you count Rory's journey of self discovery. The plot is chaotic and confusing as it bounces around. Just when you think it is going to settle in on something exciting, like the loose ghosts from the mental asylum, if takes a turn and heads to another thread that is completely unrelated. In the end, you have a bunch of story lines that don't converge neatly. This book unfortunately was a mess.
- I really liked Rory in the first book, and while I enjoyed her growth in this one, she also frustrated me to no end. I realize that she can't exactly come clean with her classmates about her new found abilities but it got a little ridiculous with her lying. She was constantly spinning lies and I didn't like that. Second, she makes some rash and immatures decisions, especially when it comes to Jane (even though there is an explanation for her supposed behavior) I didn't like the way she would choose an unknown vs. going to her friends, Boo, Stephen and Callum. Through the entire book, you watch Rory blunder around until she ends up choosing the path that you know she will end up taking at the end of book one. It is rather obvious that she is never going to be able to lead a normal life with her new found abilities. Thus, this second book spent the majority of the time taking you to the apparent outcome.
- I was extremely disappointed in the ghostly aspect in this sequel. Book one features a frightening murdering ghost, and this one leads you to believe that there will be more in this one, especially when the discovery is made regarding the ghosts from the asylum. However, the ghosts just fizzle out and are really a non presence. I was expecting so much more.
- Finally, the ending...why oh why do you have to go with a ridiculous cliffhanger? Seriously, the pace picked up the final few chapters and then there is this jarring event that left me rattled and very unhappy. I finished this one completely disgusted. At this point, I have such a bad taste in my mouth, I don't know if I will pick up book three.
The Madness Underneath was a weak follow up to The Name of the Star. This book is without the excitement, mystery and tension that was so prevalent in book one. The overall plot lacks cohesiveness and the ghostly presence is minimal. Basically, the conflict of this book is all about Rory choosing her future... will she try and slip into her normal life or become a ghost hunter? I think it is pretty obvious how it is going to play out. Finally, the story builds with an exciting climax only to culminate with another ridiculous cliffhanger. If you were a fan of book one, you will likely be disappointed with this sequel. I was hoping for much better.
I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
This satisfies two more reads from my TBR Challenge!