Review Blog

Jan 24 2012

The name of the star by Maureen Johnson

cover image Shades of London, book 1. HarperCollins, 2011. ISBN 9780007398638.
(Age: 13+) Recommended as a light suspenseful read.  Thriller. Paranormal. Arriving in London for her last year at school, Rory discovers that a brutal murderer has 'pulled a Jack the Ripper' the night before. Her new boarding school is near the scene of the murders and the police are left with no clues at all. When creeping back into the school one night, she sees a man who is invisible to her friends and to the ever-present surveillance cameras. After experiencing a near death experience she begins to hunt down the murderer with a group of people who believe in the paranormal.
There seems to be a trend to mix the thriller crime novel with some paranormal elements at the moment and Johnson succeeds in doing this very well. This is mainly due to the authenticity she brings to the Jack the Ripper murders and her description of the area where the original murders took place. She cleverly creates the creepy atmosphere of London's streets and alleyways and the vast underground Metro system with its disused rail lines and dark niches. Suspense is built up as Rory, a resourceful heroine, is stalked by the invisible man, and as each date for another Jack the Ripper style murder approaches. The humour scattered throughout the book relieves the tension and adds to its attraction as an absorbing read.
Rory is a clever, witty girl who makes friends quickly. Johnson brings to life these friends, the police and the copycat Jack the Ripper. The boarding school setting for senior students allows for a lot of freedom for Rory and her friends to investigate the murders. Even though there is a love interest for Rory, romance doesn't take centre place in this book. Instead it is the action surrounding the murders and the chase to stop the murderer that kept me glued to the page.
I enjoy Maureen Johnson's easy to read style. Her books are always memorable and I will be looking out for further episodes in this series.
Pat Pledger
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