Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book Rant: The Name of the Star

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.

I loved this book.

I will be honest. While I enjoy Maureen's blog/tumblr posts a great deal, her writing sometimes falls flat for me. I finished reading 13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES last week, and halfway through, I got really into the story, but the beginning was such a drag. I didn't care for Ginny or what the hell she was doing. THE NAME OF THE STAR, however, did not suffer from those problems. I was invested from page one. I think first person works out well for Maureen. And, I dunno, guiltily part of the reason I liked it from the get-go might be because it's a boarding-school book, and I tend to like those. It's also a London!book, and I like that very much as well. When it started out, it was reminiscent of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, one of my ultimate surprise favorites.

But then it becomes a Jack the Ripper book, so you know. There goes the lovey-dovey stuff. I guess some people were surprised halfway through when it turned into paranormal, but really, it mentions ghost police in the jacket blurb, so if you were expecting contemporary mystery/thriller, then it's sort of your fault that you can't read.

I loved Rory, the main character. She was funny and believable. I went through every emotion with her. From when she first got butterflies about her love interest to when he started to become sort of boring. I mean, if all that paranormal shit happened to me, I would find my boyfriend at the time to be somewhat underwhelming, probably.

ALSO. Jack the Ripper. YES. I approve of this so much. Modern day Jack the Ripper played out pretty much exactly as I imagined it might if it happened in the middle of London. There are a ton of random Ripper tidbits in the book, which to me indicates much research went into the writing (I'm such a Ripper amateur, though; maybe all the things mentioned are common knowledge?). I rarely read a mystery/thriller, but this one was a good one for me to go with.

Some people have complained about the pacing of the book, in that, it's slow to get started. I suppose for me, that wasn't an issue because I liked all of the normal, boarding school drama/description, but I could see how if you're looking for the paranormal aspect right away, it doesn't pick up until halfway through. Another complaint I disagreed with was that people felt Maureen was being too explicit with explaining Briticisms (prefects, A-levels, etc.) and it implied readers were too dumb/American to figure it out. I thought this was a rather stupid critique, because as the book is written in first person from Rory's POV -- Rory is from Louisiana -- it made sense for her to be confused about British life. At no point did I feel like Maureen wanted to break the fourth wall and give us all a lesson in how to be British, so I have no idea what people are talking about.

One thing I can see eye-to-eye with others was that I didn't ultimately understand the killer's motivations. I (and other reviewers, apparently) imagined MANY other ways for him to get what he wanted without going through all the trouble that he did. I guess I eventually had to chalk it up to the fact that he was psycho, but that wasn't very satisfying.

Finally, this is the first of a series. I appreciated that Maureen didn't do that assholian thing and throw in a cliffhanger without resolving anything. There's plenty of resolution. You won't feel like you went all the way through the book just to get the carrot jerked away at the end, as happens with some other series.

The atmosphere was shivery and lovely. Many reviewers objected that it was not scary enough. I will take their word for it and pass it along to you. But I'm gonna be straight with you, I was scared out of my goddamn mind. Couldn't fall asleep afterward. May or may not have checked all the rooms for creeping murderers. I'm terrified of everything, though. I was scared of The Scarlet Letter when I read it. I get freaked out when I watch trailers of horror movies. In broad daylight. Surrounded by people. I am not a good benchmark for whether things are genuinely scary or not.

Fans of the Gemma Doyle series? Get on this!


  1. This has been on my TBR, so it's nice to hear your thoughts. I enjoy both paranormal and mysteries, especially when serial killers are involved. I will have to bump this up. Thanks for the review!

  2. I've been waiting to read this book for a while! I'm glad that it's good!