The Name of the Star (Shades of London, #1)-Maureen Johnson
“Fear can’t hurt you,” she said. “When it washes over you, give it no power. It’s a snake with no venom. Remember that. That knowledge can save you.”
Plot: Aurora (Rory) Deveaux is from a small town in Louisiana, where spirituality and stories of ghosts are not uncommon. When Rory moves to London to start her new life at boarding school, she’s exhilarated to be on her own, to build a new future in a foreign country, where no one knows that she has an aunt who is an angel channeller, an uncle who has 8 freezers sharing a room packed with survival food, and that she lived on a swamp. Rory’s arrives in London just in time for mass hysteria to break out. It appears as though a new Ripper is scavenging the streets of London, hunting for victims that match the details of notorious Jack the Ripper murders. He strikes on the same day, finds victims with the same last names, and leaves them in nearly identical locations as the Ripper victims, and with the same gruesome, mutilated carnage as the famed serial killer. As Rory adjusts to dorm life, her new roommate Jazza, British colloquialisms, and to making new friends, the whir of the television, the whispered musings of her peers, and the upped police forces are everywhere. Though a killer with surgical precision, and presumably an expert on Ripper knowledge, the most fascinating, irksome, and mind-boggling aspect of the killer is that there is no evidence, apart from the brutalized bodies. The cameras that monitor almost every street corner in London capture nothing, it’s as if the murder never happened. This failure of technology causes a mass crisis. As the murders escalate, everyone waits, knowing the exact time and date the murder will take place. People stare at the TV anxious for news. Curfews are strictly enforced, Ripper parties are the new fashion, and Ripper tours have reached an all time high. “Rippermania” has taken over and destroyed any sense of normalcy as everyone lives in fear that they could be next. Meanwhile, Rory and Jazza get a new roommate named Boo, a funky Indian girl with obnoxious habits. Rory and Jazza struggle to find a balance between living a typical boarding school life, crushing on boys, and getting prepped for their A levels and so when Jerome (Rory’s crush) asks them to sneak out to the boys dorm to watch for the Ripper from the roof, they’re willing to risk it. On their way back from the boys dorm, after waiting for the murder to happen and the time slot passing, the girls dart from tree to tree and across the deserted campus to climb through a loose window. About to be scot-free, Rory is startled by a man is a poorly fitted suit, a man with cold, crazed eyes. Rory is terrified and is grateful when Jazza urges her through the window. Rory tries to talk to Jazza about the man but Jazza didn’t see him, even though he was right in front of her. The next day, a body is found close to where Rory and Jazza crossed to get back to their dorm. As the only possible witness to the new Ripper, Rory must work with the police to find him. What Rory uncovers with the help of a top-secret force known as the Shades of London, is enough to turn her world upside down. Will Rory be able to find the Ripper before he strikes again? Or will Rory be the next girl on the killer’s hit list?
- The Shades of London, much like Scully and Mulder of the X-Files, are a group of government agents that work to solve unexplained, in this case, ghostly paranormal cases. The Shades of London are a really cool idea, they consist of young people, typically in their early 20’s who have had near death experiences in their late teens and who can now see ghosts. They’re found in mental institutions, and in news papers where any strange sightings are reported but not confirmed. What’s great about them is that they’re just your average 20 somethings hanging out and having a good time with a wicked side job.
- The story will drag you in not only because of the mystery but because of the characters. They’re cultured, astoundingly unique people with hilarious stories, interesting quirks, and wonderfully written chemistry. The ghosts are some of the most developed, powerful beings in the book. They’re each different with their own background stories that enrich their presence and give them a haunting, yet oddly humanlike quality, like they are just another person to talk to who happens to be dead. They still like music, poetry, watching TV, and relaxing but have no sense of time.
- There are several creepy, horrifying moments that might just have you turning on all the lights in the house. Eerie feelings of being watched, of shadowed alleyways, of chilling sounds that will have you on the edge of your seat.
- Rory is that girl that everyone envies for her awesome stories. Her Louisiana small town life is laugh out loud funny, it’s weird, and unbelievably creative. You’ll love her for her past and her bravery.
- The weaponry used by the Shades is laughable and completely ridiculous. I don’t know whether it’s really ingenious or something so stupid it just might be perfect.
- The Ripper murders are not as graphically detailed as I would’ve liked, they’re more telling than showing.
- Seriously lacking in the romance department. While there is a flirtatious, budding relationship there’s no conflict to keep you hooked.
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