05 December 2011

Book Review: The Name of the Star

Title: The Name of the Star
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher/Year: Penguin / 2011
Date Finished: 3 December 2011
Source/Format: B&N / nookbook
Book #: 92

Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid

The Short and Sweet of It
Johnson's first installment in her new trilogy introduces readers to Rory, a Louisiana girl attending boarding school in London. Her life is irrevocably changed as she becomes embroiled in a mystery sweeping the town: a series of murders imitating the sensationalized Jack the Ripper killings.

A Bit of a Ramble
I think my brain was fried when I sat down to write this review, so I'm going to do things a bit differently and respond to some of the other reviews I read.

What captures me most about this novel is the freshness. Pam of Bookalicious believes "Johnson has breathed life into a genre swiftly turning stale and blended thriller with paranormal with humor in a recipe that is guaranteed to please."  I agree. It's odd, but I think what really lends this new life to the story is its serious lack of melodrama. As Amanda from Ramblings says, "[Johnson] makes her characters believable and real without glamorizing them. She makes them feel like teenagers without belittling or stereotyping them. She rides through drama without becoming melodramatic or letting anything get too big. She has a dry humor that helps to keep the book grounded even as tension builds." Even as things go wonky with paranormalcy, the plot, the characters, the setting, it all feels real, almost mundane.

The realness of the characters was especially pleasing to me after re-reading the Twilight series. Chris, over at bookarama, pointed out something I thought the whole time I was reading: "Rory doesn't get all "Whoa is me! Why?! Why?!" Her new abilities come as a shock but she knows she can do some good with them." This lack of self-deprecation, depression, and pessimism was sooooo refreshing. Chauceriangirl from Quirky Girls Read specifically points out that "Rory navigates everything with an air of befuddlement, but she also stands up when she needs to stand up." Complete opposite of Bella I might add.

Despite the realness of the characters (or maybe this adds to their realness), all of them are unique.  Ashley from Book Labyrinth says: "I loved all the characters, which is very important to me. Our main girl Rory, Jazza (what an English nickname, gosh), Stephen, Boo, Callum, Jerome, Jo, the scarily field hockey obsessed 'call me Claudia', and even Charlotte because she goes to a fancy dress party as AMY POND (and a ginger girl who dresses as a slutty cop and calls herself kissogram Amy is somehow weirdly a-ok in my book)." Big props for Dr. Who references.

Steph of Steph Su Reads sums up how she (and I think all the above mentioned bloggers) feels when she says The Name of the Rose is "a freakishly delicious creepfest of a new series that had me gasping, shuddering, and turning pages almost faster than I could read them." I am not quite as adamantly in love as the rest of them, but I still really enjoyed the book and look forward to the next book in the series.


  1. Love the way you structured this review! I have found myself totally fried as well, and feeling completely INEPT to summarize the Chaos Walking Trilogy. Not a bad idea, this. I feel like I just sat in a room with all of you, pummeling me with a million good reasons to pick up this book!

  2. Every time I read another review of this book I ask myself, Why have I not read this yet??? I <3 Maureen Johnson and it sounds like she struck gold again with this new book.


  3. Is this your first Johnson? I can't remember if you said before that you hadn't gotten around to her yet. This is my favorite of hers so far. Interestingly, when I read my first book by her (13 Little Blue Envelopes) I wasn't quite sure what I thought, and felt more about it like you seem to feel about this one, but eventually, that one became my favorite until replaced by this one. It's like I had to get used to the way Johnson wrote first. :D

  4. I haven't read anything by Johnson yet! I need to change that!

  5. This review has made me want to go out and grab this book right away! I haven't ever seen a review like this one before, where so many thoughts are incorporated, but I loved it! Off to see if I can grab this one, and I love the cover as well!

  6. Between your review and Pam's - this book is quickly becoming one of my "Must reads"!

  7. Glad you enjoyed it!! And haha, much love for Doctor Who. <3

  8. You've made me glad I have this on my TBR list!

  9. I need to get my hands on this one!

  10. Hurm. I haven't heard ANYTHING about this book which makes me think that I must have been on a blogging break when those reviews were posted? Surely I would have seen Amanda's at least.

    This DOES sound really interested to me, but I fail at trilogies. Fail.

  11. Great review, Trisha. I like your responses to other reviews. The lack of ridiculous emo teen book conventions would make me far more likely to give this series a go.

  12. I really liked this book and I've been nodding along to everything you say in this review. I patently do not read suspenseful things, and I didn't really know what this was about when I started it, so it kinda scared the pants off of me. But I'm a*total* lightweight when it comes to that sort of thing.

  13. I have no idea why I've yet to read my copy of this! It sounds like something I'll really enjoy.

  14. I enjoyed this one as well. I loved the atmosphere that the author created and found myself caught up in the book the entire time. It was a fun read and I can't wait for the 2nd one to come out!


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