‘The Name of the Star’ by Maureen Johnson follows an American girl called Rory as she moves to a London boarding school. At the same time a series of murders occur, reminiscent of the Jack the Ripper killings. One day, Rory sees a suspect, but finds that she was the only one to lay eyes on them. Soon, she realises that she has a gift – a gift that she must use to stop the killer.
I really enjoy reading twists on tales and real life events. This was no different. Taking the Jack the Ripper murders and putting them in a modern day context is something that has been done before, but in this case Johnson managed to weave in some originality. I won’t say how, because that would give away spoilers, but I was pleasantly surprised when I read it.
The story itself was entertaining and the characters were enjoyable to read. I particularly liked how Rory did not immediately fit in to the boarding school environment, her arrival was cringe-worthy and her American upbringing was somewhat at odds with her British schoolmates. As someone who was often the new girl at school, I could relate quite well to her experiences.
However, I was slightly disappointed in the writing. While written in a manner that was easy to read, there were times where is was not that great. Maureen Johnson also seemed to do a lot of research, but I really struggled to believe the way the news reacted to the murders, they just seemed to over-react. Not to mention, it seemed very unlikely that the school could have regular school trips for the Art History class – the number of forms and parental consent required for trips makes it seem very unlikely (at least, that’s my experience of a British school, it could be different in other schools).
Otherwise, I quite enjoyed the book. It was a fun read – a paranormal, murder mystery. I have high hopes for the rest of the series, now that this book has set everything up, so I may continue it.