Thursday, 22 December 2011

Review of THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson

Title: The Name of The Star
Author: Maureen Johnson
Source: Review copy from Harper Collins

I hereby award this book 5 wings!

I have always loved things about Jack The Ripper. From documentaries on television, to books about him. I have always been fascinated by how he is one of our most notorious murderers, despite having only killed a small number of people. Some believe he killed 4 women, some think it's 5, some think it's 6. I personally have always thought it was 4. But it isn't the number of women he killed that matters most, it's the way in which he killed them. 

From Wikipedia:
Jack the Ripper
Drawing of a man with a pulled-up collar and pulled-down hat walking alone on a street watched by a group of well-dressed men behind him
"With the Vigilance Committee in the East End: A Suspicious Character" from The Illustrated London News13 October 1888
Background information
Birth nameIdentity unknown
Also known as"The Whitechapel Murderer"
"Leather Apron"
Number of victims:5+?
Span of killings1888–?
CountryUnited Kingdom

"Jack the Ripper" is the best-known name given to an unidentified serial killer who was active in the largely impoverished areas in and around the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. The name originated in a letter, written by someone claiming to be the murderer, that was disseminated in the media. The letter is widely believed to have been a hoax, and may have been written by a journalist in a deliberate attempt to heighten interest in the story. Other nicknames used for the killer at the time were "The Whitechapel Murderer" and "Leather Apron".
Attacks ascribed to the Ripper typically involved female prostitutes from the slums whose throats 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. Rumours that the murders were connected intensified in September and October 1888, and letters from a writer or writers purporting to be the murderer were received by media outlets andScotland Yard. The "From Hell" letter, received by George Lusk of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, included half of a preserved human kidney, supposedly from one of the victims. Mainly because of the extraordinarily brutal character of the murders, and because of media treatment of the events, the public came increasingly to believe in a single serial killer known as "Jack the Ripper".
Extensive newspaper coverage bestowed widespread and enduring international notoriety on the Ripper. An investigation into a series of brutal killings in Whitechapel up to 1891 was unable to connect all the killings conclusively to the murders of 1888, but the legend of Jack the Ripper solidified. As the murders were never solved, the legends surrounding them became a combination of genuine historical research, folklore, and pseudohistory. The term "ripperology" was coined to describe the study and analysis of the Ripper cases. There are now over one hundred theories about the Ripper's identity, and the murders have inspired multiple works of fiction.

So when I was asked by Rosi at Harper Collins if there were any books I was interested in, The Name Of The Star automatically came to mind. I wanted to see what Maureen Johnson could bring to the table. Let me assure you, I am VERY glad I did.

Maureen Johnson writes a chillingly epic tale. It was not overly gory, yet contained enough that my appetite for gore was satiated. I don't usually care whether a book contains real blood and guts or not. However, this book being based on Jack The Ripper would not have been half so satisfying without it. I mean, if you are going to tell a story about someone ripping internal organs out, you can't really do it without some gore. 
That having been said, it isn't so bad that you wouldn't want your teenage daughter/son to read it. I think it is suitable for anyone around 16+ and would definitely recommend it to a friend's daughter who is around that age. 

So, on to my review:

Aurora Deveaux, or Rory as she prefers to be known, was born and raised in Louisiana, America. Her arrival in England marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it is the start of her new life. Her parents are in Bristol for work, so Rory finds herself at a boarding school in London. 
The day Rory arrives at school, she discovers that London is in the grips of a copycat killer who is replicating the murders of Jack The Ripper. He kills his first victim in the same way as his first victim back in 1888. Rory has a run in with him one night, but only she can see him. What does that mean? How can they catch him if only Rory can see him?
Rory is scared what this could mean. I mean wouldn't you be?! It's Jack The Ripper. Multiple murders and eviscerations to his name. And only Rory can see him. That has to give a girl the creeps! 

I don't want to be all spoilery and tell you what to expect. However, I can say that there will be twists and turns that if you are anything like me, you won't see coming. I must say, each of which is immensely enjoyable. I found that Maureen Johnson has done a great job of her slant on Rippermania.
In all honesty, when I saw that this was only book 1, I felt that it may not have a proper conclusion. But actually, for me, there were no loose ends. It was all tied up in a pretty- nay bloody- package. I was really glad to find that such a book could fit so well into the YA category. 

I was happy to see that Maureen mentioned The Smiths, one of my favourite bands of all time. It was great to see the lyrics dotted about. I love Morrissey's voice and found that it actually fitted really well within the story. 
This is the first of Maureen's books that I have read. However, now I know I like her style, I will no doubt go out and purchase some more. I cannot wait for the next Shades of London book due for release,  I believe, in October 2012. It's a long time to wait, but due to the fact that this one actually did have an ending and didn't leave us hanging, I feel okay about the fact I have to wait another 10 months. 

All in all I would recommend this book to anyone who likes YA books and is looking for something a little different than vampires, werewolves and the like. Not that I don't love me some vamps, it's just that I like to read something a little different from time to time. 
I stayed up late into the night to finish this because I was too enthralled to put it down. For me, The Name Of The Star will go down in history as one of my favourite books. 

1 comment:

  1. OMG the UK cover is gorgeous! I really loved this book. I am looking forward to the next one to see what happens nest. What a great ending!! Awesome review.


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