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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 Madness Underneath  - Maureen Johnson The problem with following authors on Twitter is that, whenever a new book of theirs comes out, there’s a lot of retweeting and posting of reviews. And depending on how the book is, there’s a lot of expectation on my end whenever I start hearing claims that ZOMG THE ENDING HOW COULD YOU DO THAT. It doesn’t completely ruin the book for me, but I’ve started to side-eye books that I’m not going to automatically pounce on release day. I had the same issue with Shades of Earth and Unspoken. And much like Unspoken, I saw the ending of The Madness Underneath coming a couple chapters before the end. It didn’t ruin it the book for me, but I feel a little jaded when I got to THAT PART and I think “Really, this is shocking?” Maybe it’s me.But my own jaded feelings aside, I did really like The Madness Underneath. After finishing The Name of the Star, I was curious how Johnson was going to continue the series with Rory sent away to Bristol and with her new, unexplained powers. (And major points to Johnson for not wasting time on explaining “She’s a human terminus now.” She doesn’t dance around the fact for the sake of a massive ~ mystery~ and it saves me from screaming at the characters about how they’re all idiots.) It’s paced a lot slower than the first book, and there’s a much more personal story here.I liked the fact that the book’s plot did involve Rory trying to get semblance of normalcy in her now not-normal life, and how hard it is for her to cope with that fact. I really liked that Johnson also addressed the idea that everyone around Rory—her school friends, teachers, her parents—all expected her to be traumatized, but still be able to pick right back up where she left off. It could be handled as too convenient, as Rory can’t really come out and say “I can see ghosts, okay? And btw, the Ripper who nearly killed me was a ghost and that whole story about how he ‘drowned’ is bullshit.” I really liked the fact that her trouble adjusting does lead her to another group of people with the sight, despite it really not working out for Rory (oh, understatement of the year). If I may make a comparison, one of my complaints with Meg Cabot’s Mediator series was that Suze Simon never met another mediator despite living in New York City until conveniently moving and then they’re everywhere. It could have gone the same way for Rory, except that she does find other people like her who haven’t been conscripted into the Shades organization. (And actually, I’d like to know if Rory goes back to the States, she begins looking for people with the sight. Food for thought.) Rory’s detachment from ‘normal’ society also kinda leads into a reversal of the characterization from the first book. While she’s sent back to Wexford in the first few chapters, we never get a lot of Jazza or Jerome, aside from occasionally popping in. (And only one Alastair scene. Yay for having him in there, boo for only being in one scene.) We do get loads more of the Shades trio and how they’ve been coping with the ghosts of London without their termini. I also liked that not only Rory is conflicted about how to use her new power, but it’s also reflected across the other three. I liked that Callum’s confronted with the fact that no, not all ghosts are bad; but even then, Rory has to use her powers whenever she or someone else is in danger. And I liked that Rory hasn’t completely mastered her powers and that using them actually has a physical effect on her. (Also, can I please predict that Book and Callum are going to eventually hook up? Please? I like them together; it might be pairing the side characters, but they just work so well together.)The overall mystery and appearance of the Bedlam ghosts in this volume aren’t as well handled as in the first book, and actually, that whole plotline ends up shunted aside during the last quarter of the book. I really wanted more of that storyline—why hadn’t there been more unexplained deaths in the area of Wexford if there were so many disturbed ghosts, and If the mysterious crack Rory hypothesizes has something to do with it now, then what is it? The reveal with Jane and her group eats up the last chunk of the plot, and the book does end on a cliffhanger, but I wanted more explained before everything got unceremoniously dropped. As I mentioned above, towards the end, I did call certain events happening. I pretty much called Rory eventually hooking up with Stephen. And during Rory’s rescue from Jane’s clutches, I was beginning to think that Stephen was going to die. I will say that I actually liked the fact that he did die in a different way I had been expecting, because honestly, I thought either Jane or John was going to force Rory to kill Stephen. And I also liked that Newman’s theory from The Name of the Star was actually brought up as the group is debating on what to do with Stephen’s comatose body. It’s not a last minute “OH BTW” nor is it something that everyone thinks is going to be successful. I liked that the ending was doubtful about what was going to happen to Stephen’s spirit. (Actually, to go back to my comparison above, I had mentioned I would really love a crossover where Suze and Rory meet. And then trade notes on having ghost boyfriends.) It’s not as creepy and action-packed as the first book, but the character study and Rory’s development made for a solid read in book 2. I’m still not happy with the dropped plot elements, but for what I was given, I still really enjoyed The Madness Underneath. (Even though I didn’t share the reaction of some of my fellow readers.)