Book talk: Rory grew up in Bénouville, Louisiana "an unstable place, built on a swamp." Bénouville is full of interesting characters like cousin Diane, who runs the Healing Angel Ministry out of her living room or Billy Mack who started his own religion in his garage. But it's not until Rory leaves Bénouville for senior year abroad in London that she starts to suspect herself of going crazy. Soon she has more to worry about than picking up on British slang and keeping up with her new school's strict academic standards. A new Jack the Ripper is on the loose and if she isn't careful, Rory may be the next victim.
Rocks in my socks: If it was the realistic touches that delighted me it was the supernatural touches that disappointed me. The premise is a bit weak, making the final reveal of murderer and motives anticlimactic. There is a supernatural element to the story that creates several plot holes as supernatural elements are wont to do. For example (highlight for spoiler) the killer ends up being a ghost and despite the fact that it is previously established in the novel that a ghost can't be given a cell phone because it would look weird to have a phone floating about in the air, when the killer drags someone across London at knife point on a night that is specifically described as having a large police presence, no one notices. Even when she's held at knifepoint in a small room the bystander who can't see ghosts doesn't notice the knife. In addition, for a book described as full of romance on the inside flap the romantic sub-plot seems tacked on and non-essential. Maybe I'm just biased though because Rory never goes for the guy I liked--the one who seems to have read the entire library and memorized the location of each book *swoon* (highlight for spoiler) sure he turns out to be a ghost, but we all have our quirks, don't we? On a side note it bothers me that at one point Rory more or less pays for someone to write an entire essay for her and she never seems to feel guilty about it and there are no consequences. Granted she is going through some difficult times but perhaps she could have tried explaining that to her teachers instead. With all the Ripper madness going on I'm sure they'd be understanding. Still, I was so enchanted by Rory that I was mostly willing to suspend my disbelief and forgive her for this infraction.
Every book its reader: The original Jack the Ripper murders were quite gruesome and so any story revolving around them is going to have its fair share of gore. Outside of the murders though there isn't much violence and the romantic sub-plot never gets enough attention to go too far. I'd recommend it for 6th graders and older looking for a supernatural thriller with a splash of dark humor.
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
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