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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027

The Name of the Star (Shades of London Series #1)

The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson So, as evidenced by its inclusion on my “Want-now” shelf, I’ve been waiting very impatiently for this to come out. Creepy Maureen Johnson novel? Yes, plz.It’s very different from her other books. I’ve read her horror-themed short stories and yes, Johnson can do creepy. The autumnal Whitechapel setting, right as a copycat Ripper starts recreating the murders, was really effective, and set up a different side of London than the ones she explores in the Little Blue Envelope novels. I liked the Wexford boarding school, and the new school dynamic that Rory has to get used to.Rory took a while for me to warm up to, but I really liked her as a leading character. She’s someone who wants to try something new, and be on her own for a while, but at the same time, she’s very unsure how the other Wexford students will take to her. She’s also reasonably “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON” and freaked out once she realizes that she’s the only one who can see the potential new Ripper. There’s also a great friendship dynamic between Rory and her roommate Jazza—I liked the first scene where they meet, and there’s that initial unease of “I’m stuck with this person, must make a good impression.” I really wish there had been more of Jazza involved in the book as the plot went on; she’s still a major character, but her role’s considerably lessened. Also, I did like Rory’s relationship with Jerome. It does feel out of place and random when they first make-out, and actually, I thought Jazza had a thing for him. But it does progress fairly naturally, and I like the awkwardness of Rory’s early relationship.The Shades group seemed a little randomly interspersed, but I generally liked them. Loved Boo—especially the fact that she’s presented as a potential threat to Rory before gradually finding out that Boo wants to help her out. Stephen was bit too uptight at times, but I liked how he kept trying to keep the other three safe. I really wanted to see more of Callum’s personality—his backstory carries a lot of weight to it, and so I want to see more of him across the series. I also really liked the ghosts, particularly Jo and Alistair (I want more of him! 80s punk ghost ftw!) While the plot does feel a little random—Rory just happening to arrive at the same time as the new Ripper murders, and the Ripper figures out that she knows who he is—it does move at a good pace and keeps you guessing. The Ripper references are extremely creepy—the “From Hell” reproduction wigged me out, and every time the murderer would talk about his plans, it just felt wrong, in the sense of “This is really messed-up.” The end is a really obvious cliff-hanger, and while I have a theory about what happened, I will be picking up the next book to find out what’s next.I do have some issues with this, though. I have a harder time in general adjusting to Johnson’s first-person books as opposed to her third-person, so it’s a little different jumping into this at first. A lot of Rory’s narration feels like laundry listing, and her constant references to her family in Louisiana feel like they should be rounded out, but don’t have as much detail or love that should have been there. I also didn’t like that some of the Wexford people, particularly Charlotte and Claudia, aren’t as fully developed, and given the end of the book, I don’t know if we’re going to see more of them. The motives for the murders are explained, but it feels a little random, seeing as we don’t know much about the murderer aside from a massive info-dump at the end. (Also, I kept having St. Trinian’s flashbacks during all of the hockey scenes.)That said though, I highly enjoyed this. It’s creepy, funny, interesting and keeps you guessing.