Saturday, May 19, 2012
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Genre: YA (paranormal)
Why I read it/how I found it: John Green said it was his favorite novel of 2011 and I saw it at the library.
The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London, it's the start of a new life at a boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.
This cover really intrigued me (ghostly nineteenth century dude did it for me). Premise intrigued me. The first three pages intrigued me.
Rory's from Louisiana and heading off to boarding school in England, and on the day she arrives a murder practically identical to Jack the Ripper's first murder has occurred.
You can thank me for skipping the backstory as to why she's going, how she got there, etc. etc. that Johnson didn't do. The intrigue of the first three pages (not from Rory's POV) gets sucked away as I have this girl prattling on about her life and parents and new boarding school in England and yadda yadda.
From the get-go we're dragged through "this is how England is different from America" lectures. Oh. My. Goodness. I knew almost all of the differences Johnson felt it was oh-so-important to explain to her readers. And even if I didn't, if she just said "A-level exams" I'd figure hey, those are some exams that teenagers in England take. And please, I know what prefects and head boy/girls are. I read Harry Potter, and even though J.K. Rowling didn't give me a lecture I GOT WHAT IT WAS. At nine years old, I understood. Rather than giving us trivia on England for a Jeopardy episode I'll probably never get in, I'd like to get to the story.
But really. The must have to cut the crap out of this book for its UK edition. Either that or British readers feel even more infuriated at these sections of the book.
Rory rambled a lot. Gave us information that had no point to the story or the plot, or even to her character. I'd skim pages before the story started again.
Lots of to be verbs (sometimes filling up entire paragraphs) and sentences I mentally rewrote. I catch myself doing that now, but in this book it's more than it has been lately. The writing was bad to mediocre, depending on the place.
Rory was a boring character, except for when she was crying, and in that case she got annoying. And here's the thing, I love it when MC's go a little mental. Like Katniss in Mockingjay or Tris in Insurgent. Of course, that's after highly traumatic events happened to them and there's a reason behind it. Rory figures out she's a bit different than everyone else, and she loses it. Has a mental breakdown. She's one of the weakest MC's I've ever read. But of course, during the climax, she's forced into bravery or else there's no climax. Pansy Rory will just go walking into her death. Riiiight.
Jerome, the love interest, is very meh. I mean, I have no reason to dislike him. But I have no reason to like him, and neither does Rory for that matter. He feels very plopped-in to give Rory some good make-out time and give us lectures on Jack the Ripper.
I liked Charlotte's role, the head girl they don't like. She's very realistic, and I can see why a teen would be rubbed the wrong way with her. She's not a stereotypical nemesis for a YA novel, and her role isn't that huge. It's very realistically portrayed (see, I did like some stuff in this book).
I liked a lot of the side characters, actually. Boo, Jo, Alistair, and Callum in particular. But alas, they could not save the show.
The plot was pretty predictable. I guessed most of what would happen, so that didn't exactly entertain me or leave me in suspense.
Other information: This is the first of a trilogy. Maureen Johnson's website is here.