Friday, November 11, 2011

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

When I was younger, I thought that there was something incredibly romantic and exciting about Jack the Ripper. In college, I did a research paper on the subject for an English class. I learned that Jack the Ripper was pretty much some guy who killed prostitutes and cut out their organs. That's not so romantic.

In The Name of the Star, Jack the Ripper is terrorizing present-day London. Copy-cat killings are showing up on the same days they did back in 1888, and the victims are being killed in the same ways. The weird thing is that the killer didn't show up on the CCTV (Cameras that record practically everything in London; It's a thing in the book, and apparently real as far as Wikipedia can be trusted). At last someone catches a glimpse of the killer, a student named Aurora (Rory for short).

Rory is an American studying at Wexford Academy. She feels intimidated by the courses and by the newly learned field hockey. The book starts with Rory going to classes, getting acquainted with her roommate Jazza and romantic interest Jerome. The turning point comes when she and Jazza sneak over to see Jerome while the campus is on lockdown. Jack the Ripper is poised to strike very close to Wexford that night, so everyone is on alert. While climbing back into the dorm, Rory sees a strange man, a man who doesn't belong. This man is obviously the new Jack the Ripper. To make the whole situation weirder, Jazza can't see him.

Not to give anything away, but the book takes a very different turn from that point. The boarding school shenanigans before were very fun. I was a little sad when they ended after the Big Secret came out, but all that stuff is entertaining as well. I'd almost like to read it a second time to see if I should have spotted the Big Secret earlier, or at least clues to it. Regardless, The Name of the Star is a very entertaining book about a girl who goes to boarding school and deals with challenging courses, new friends, a potential boyfriend, and of course MURDER. I have this almost irrational fondness for the book, so please don't get angry with me if you don't agree.

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