“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.”
Hello Bookish Buddies! Welcome to my review of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. I started this book about three weeks ago with my friend. We planned to buddy read it, but I finished it and she’s still halfway through. I’ve been wanting to read a Maureen Johnson book for a while, and I’m so glad I did. Let’s get into the review! If you’d like to familiarize yourself with the story, here is the Goodreads synopsis:
Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him – the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target…unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables.
Fun fact: Rory is a girl. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that. It literally took from the start of the book to when she was being placed in a room with another girl. Even then, I was confused. So yeah, Rory arrives at boarding school, and for the first few chapters, I thought it would make an awesome contemporary. I wasn’t hating it, there was a pretty cool female friendship forming, and I was learning about British boarding school culture. Then I remember all of the murders that are taking place.
Shortly after this, all, and I mean all, of the characters fall victim to the “being a dumbass in the face of paranormal danger” trope. Even the experienced ghost busting squad does. I mean, if you’re gonna be in an experienced ghost busting squad, you should know better. So yeah, basically this was just a PG-13 cheesy, not scary horror movie in book form. It was still enjoyable, though.
I really enjoyed the female friendships in this book. I loved Jazza and Rory’s friendship, up until it just ended abruptly, which was kinda sad. Johnson set up a really good contemporary foundation, and then once the paranormal aspect came in, all of that kind of went out the window and we forget about the grades and friendships Rory should be maintaining in favor of exploring the ghost world of London.
The Name of the Star wasn’t the deepest, most thought provoking, beautifully written read, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I gave it 3.5/5 stars.