Monday, December 26, 2011

Review: The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1)

The Name of the Star


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.

Published 29 September 2011


This book was a disappointment because of it's lack of momentum.

First and foremost, I would say that I started to read The Name of the Star with a completely different storyline in mind. I staunchly declare myself as a lover of historical fiction. Whether it's the Tudor Court or the Victorian Era, everything about debutantes at balls and handsome nobles holds a certain appeal that cannot be denied. But you see, I was fooled by the cover of a girl in a chemise and a man with a bowler hat. I really did assume that it was one of those historical fictions about Jack the Ripper roaming the streets of London 1880s (one of the most feared serial killers in history). Funny, funny, because my eyes didn't see the word on the blurb-- modern-day London. In addition, I also foolishly imagined a romance between Jack the Ripper and this red-haired beauty.


Though it would wonderful story that way.

Needless to say, I was very stumped when I heard all about flip-flops in the first few chapters. 

Still, as a story about a serial killer, this one lacked some thrill. I don't see what's so scary about a bald man in a suit with a bowler hat. I couldn't help but picture him as one of the pair-- Thomson & Thompson-- in The Adventures of Tintin, which was a fabulous film by the way.

Now, do tell me, are they scary? Nah.

But back to Jack the Ripper. This idea was a really new one for me, how someone in the twenty-first century would mimic the actions of a deranged high-profile murderer from two centuries ago. The serial killer would kill people on the same dates as Jack the Ripper, and kill them the same way as well. 

Honestly speaking, though Maureen Johnson had the book at a sluggish pace, her incorporation of JtR facts into the novel was quite stunning. (Some facts about Jack the Ripper at the end of the review)

At the start, the book was like a documentary about boarding school life. But, the novel which started off as a documentary turned into a mystery about a serial killer, and eventually, a paranormal fantasy.

How is it a mystery? Well, the CCTVs around the murder sites captured only the victims dying with no sight of the killer at all. No one seemed to be able to catch him until Rory sees a strange man in a bowler suit near school premises. However, the strange thing is that no one else can see him other than Rory.  

This takes up about two-thirds of the novel, and so far, the whole thing was really slow-paced.

Then the tension builds up as the whole of London gets caught up in "Rippermania". Everyone is scared, but still curious. There are many people predicting the next scene of crime, throwing parties at pubs frequented by victims of Jack the Ripper in 1880s, so on and so forth. Police are increasingly agitated as it draws closer to the final date when Jack the Ripper struck back in the nineteenth century, 9 November.

Now, at this point of time in the story, Rory has discovered that she can actually see ghosts since she had a near brush with death, namely choking on a piece of beef. That's when the novel picked up. It turns out that the serial killer, Alexander Newman, is actually a ghost, and he has set his sight on Rory, who is to be his final victim. He asks her to meet him and threatens her that if she doesn't show up, he will kill a path to her. Rory meets Boo, Callum and Stephan who are members of the Ghost Cop (mainly people who keep ghosts in check) and they accompany her to meet Newman. 

The story starts to turn frightening and we learn by clues that Alexander Newman was a Ghost Cop in his lifetime. The final confrontation was full of edge-of-your-seat thrills, and I was really holding my breathe when Newman slit Rory. Don't worry, she didn't die.

As you can see, the first two-thirds of the novel was spent on boarding school life, and all the fascinating parts were in the remaining one-third of the novel. The story is a fresh read, but I find the plot hollow and forced and only satisfying with the facts about Jack the Ripper.

Before I end this review, there would be one factor that I would like to touch up on. The romance in this novel, unfortunately, came across as weak and awfully neglected, so readers who are expecting the love life of the heroine to make up for the lack of plot are to be sorely dismayed.  

The story ended with a cliffhanger which didn't really arouse my interest. And to be honest, I am not interested to read its sequels at all.

However, to give Maureen Johnson some credit, she has a humorous and witty writing style, so you get a few laughs straight-away!

If you like slow-paced books with really strange plots, give it a try!

Source: Read while sitting on the cold white tiles in The Bookstore


Facts about Jack the Ripper:

1. Jack the Ripper is an unidentified serial killer. He is a dark existence that represents all those who killed and got away with it, hence, the obsession until now.

2. He killed only 5 victims and strangely ended his killings. The canonical five are Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly (in order of their deaths).

3. All five were female prostitutes and died around the Whitechapel area in 1888.

4. Mary Ann Nichols was killed 31 August 1888; Annie Chapman was killed on 8 September 1888; Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes were both killed on 30 September 1888, also known as the "double-event" as they were murdered on the same day; Mary Jane Kelly died on 9 November 1888.

5. The throats of the victims were cut prior to abdominal mutilations. The removal of internal organs from at least three of the victims led to proposals that their killer possessed anatomical or surgical knowledge.

He is a mystery even till now.


  1. I really did enjoy this story, the plot, and all the characters. I liked the relationship between the characters and how they developed. I especially liked the character growth of Tris from beginning to end. And I liked the fact that any romance in the story was played off as a secondary aspect versus a primary one. To me, that actually adds more interest to it.

    1. Ahh... You must be talking about Divergent. Wrong post, but lovely comment anyway!
      I love the romance too!

  2. I am in love with Maureen Johnson, and can't wait to read this book! :D


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