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Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (Audio)

Posted by Irish in Uncategorized4 Comments

Publisher:  Brilliance Audio (Audio); Putnam Juvenile (Print)

Source: Publisher
Publication Date: 29 Sept 2011 (Audio);  29 Sept 2011 (Print)
Series or Standalone: Series
ISBN:  1441866361 (Audio), 0399256601 (Hardcover)
Format: Audio
Audio Length:  8 discs (~10 hrs)
Narrator: Nicola Barber
Place(s) Traveled to: London, England
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Shades of London Series Order

Book 1: The Name of the Star
Book 2: The Madness Underneath (27 Sept 2012)

First Line: The eyes of London were watching Claire Jenkins.

Maureen Johnson is one of those authors that I’ve heard a lot of things about and while I’ve purchased several of her books I just haven’t gotten around to yet. So when the opportunity came up to review the audio of her latest, The Name of the Star, I jumped at the chance. I was very intrigued with the idea of a mystery involving a modern day Jack the Ripper because like many people I am deeply curious about that very first recorded serial killer. In Shades of London,  the murders of Jack are recreated and the heroine of the book finds her self right in the middle of them. Partly because her boarding school is right in ripper territory and partly because you wouldn’t have a novel if she wasn’t. 

Johnson adds a little twist on her modern reemergence of Jack the Ripper in that it appears that a ghost is doing the deed. Which leads some to think that Jack has returned from the dead and panic ensues. This also brings our fearless heroine, Rory, into contact with a small group of people who not only see ghosts but who can help them cross over. An ability that she also seems to share. 

Overall I enjoyed this book. I loved the modern take on Jack the Ripper and the hysteria that it caused. I could totally picture people flocking to the Whitechapel area of London just to try and get a glimpse of this gruesome murderer and the Ripperologists glorying in the sudden limelight. Rory was a strong character but she wasn’t without her naivete. A good heroine in a book or horror film needs this bit of stupidity if you will so that she ends up in that dangerous situation so that she can either stand and conquer or be killed. And lets face it, when the person entering danger is the main character chances of them getting killed are slim. Not that it doesn’t happen…but that its slim. 

The narrator, Nicola Barber, was easy on the ears and I enjoyed listening to her throughout the book. However I think that she tried too hard to do too many accents and never really seemed to master them. I liked how she read the inner thoughts of Rory in her regular voice but hated when she tried to take on Rory’s southern accent. She just never seemed to quite hit it. So I was thankful when Rory didn’t ever actually seem to speak very much dialogue in the book. She was just a very intuitive mind reader (as were those around her) and much was communicated to her with her saying much. This is something that I may not have been fully aware of though if I hadn’t listened to this book as the change in accents definitely helps a characters words really stand out. Barber would also slip on accents of other characters as well, especially if there were several people in a scene with our MC, and so sometimes it was hard to tell who was speaking when. So again, I was thankful that much of the story was told through Rory’s thoughts.

I also had some other issues with the book, like the pontificating bad guy who wastes many an opportunity to do the things he says he’s going to do because he spends way too much time chatting. Then there were times where Johnson was just overly and unnecessarily descriptive. Like when she was describing the line of spit connecting the MC to the boy she was kissing and details of every meal she ate or what she was wearing. There was a lot of time spent on details that didn’t matter and very little on ones that did. So as a reader I was kept in the dark about some important things, only some of which, were revealed by the big reveal of the end. So while I enjoyed the book I didn’t love it. Will I check out the sequel? Maybe. I think it will all depend on WHAT that story is about. 

Until then though I will immerse myself into UK tv shows like Whitechapel and Bedlam. Whitechapel is a new UK crime drama where the first season deals with a modern day Jack the Ripper and I was riveted to every episode and pretty much binged on all available episodes. The same went for Bedlam, which is set in an old asylum that is being converted into luxery apartments. The building is infested with ghosts of former patients who are trying to get revenge for their deaths and centers around the guy who can see them and help them cross over. Its totally spooky and addicting and I’m so happy it got a second series. I watched both of these shows via BBC America’s on-demand feature and highly recommend them if you like things about ghosts and Jack the Ripper. =)

4 Responses to “The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (Audio)”

  1. bermudaonion

    I always wonder about the chatty bad guys – in books and movies. Sometimes there are just too many voices for one reader to do.

  2. Lana

    I read this one (rather than listening to it), so I missed some of the ‘mind-reading’. In print, I was supremely happy that Rory was Southern (I love the South and am getting tired of fictional portrayals being all about the snotty Southern belle or people dying to get away from the South). But I can only imagine a fake accent would have put me off incredibly.

    I was a little disappointed in the bad guy, too. Mostly because I just never quite figured out the whys and wherefores (despite the pontificating).

    But thanks for the TV show recs! I’ll have to check those out.