Google+ Reading Teen: Book & Audio Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book & Audio Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper in the autumn of 1888.

Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police now believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

Audio CD
Read by: Nicola Barber
Publisher: Brilliance Audio on CD Unabridged; Unabridged edition (September 29, 2011)
Buy the CD: Amazon
Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 9 hours and 50 minutes
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Buy on Audible 

I have to admit that when I popped this audio in, and heard who the reader was, I was a little disappointed.  I heard Nicola before, when I listened to Undercurrent, and I didn't like the way she read it very much.  She tended to over enunciate every last syllable, and it drove me a little crazy.  BUT, I was in for a pleasant surprise.  As this book is set in London, most of the characters speak with a British accent, and I was really impressed by the way Nicola sounded.  Turns out that she is originally from England, so I guess that makes sense.  Her accents for all the English characters were fantastic.  While she still tended to over enunciate during the narration, it didn't bother me nearly as much because there was a lot more dialog in this book than Undercurrent.  I do wish that someone would tell her to just speak normally when she does these readings, though.  When she speaks so formally, it just takes away from the feel of actually being in the story, especially when you're talking about a Young Adult book.  Other than the British accents, she also had to do a Southern Accent for Rory.  I think she did a pretty good job with this one as well.  Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how well done it was, and especially how well she did the male voices, as this can be pretty tricky.  If you're looking for a new audiobook, I highly recommend this one.  If you're debating between audio or book, you might want to consider how well you can do all the different accents.  I think it adds a lot to the story that she can do so many.

Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile; First Edition edition (September 29, 2011)
Language: English
Buy the book: Amazon 

 This may be hard to believe, but this is my first Maureen Johnson book.  I've stalked her on Twitter for a long time, and she is a riot, to say the least, so I was excited to see how that translated into her writing.  I probably didn't pick the best example of her comic side, but I definitely enjoyed The Name of the Star.....well, as much as anyone CAN enjoy a book about a guy that's killing people.

It feels wrong to be fascinated by Jack the Ripper, a man who brutally murdered at least four women in 1888, but that's exactly what's happened to the town that Rory has moved to, and I found myself swept up in the Ripper frenzy right along with them.  This book was creepy, on multiple levels.  I definitely recommend reading or listening to this at night, to get the full effect.  There were a lot of interesting facts, and quite a few gory details, that I had never heard about Jack the Ripper in the story.  Maureen did a good job interweaving all these details into the plot, and not making the jump from present to past choppy.  I loved that not everything is what it seems.

I liked Rory a lot.  She was fun-loving and adventurous, but at the same time just trying find her place in this new world she's found herself in.  Not only London, but also her part in this new Ripper mystery.  The romance was cute, but not anything spectacular.  I felt like her relationship with Jerome was sweet, but very surface.  I'll be surprised if they stay together in the future books in the series, and I'm ok with that.  The only thing that bothered me about Rory was that there are a few hints that are dropped in the story about the killer and the mystery, that are pretty obvious to us as readers, but that Rory is oblivious to.  This makes her come across as.....not quite as intelligent as I would have liked.

Overall, though, I thought this was an exciting and suspenseful book that I'm happy that I got a chance to listen to.

Book Doppelgangers:  The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, Deception by Lee Nichols, Clarity by Kim Harrington
  • Sexual Content:  Mild
  • Profanity:  Moderate
  • Violence:  Heavy
  • Other Notables:  Legal Drinking (in England)
For more details, check out The Name of the Star on Parental Book Reviews.


  1. I'm not a huge audio fan, but I did recently buy this, so I'm glad to see you enjoyed it! I've never read anything by Maureen either, so this will also be my first introduction to her writing. I'll need to try and move this up on my reading pile now. Thank you for the review!

  2. I'm dying for reading it but it will have to wait a little bit; I have many books in my TBR.

  3. Thank you for your honesty on the audio narrator.

  4. I do have a question for you about the audio. Did you listen to it on CD or did you get it from Audible? I have gotten 6 different CDs for my library and all six have a flaw on disc four track 7--track 6 ends at the end of the chapter and track seven starts in the middle of the next chapter, reads for a while, and then goes back to the beginning of the chapter it should have started at the beginning of track 7. It is the weirdest thing. Did you experience that when you listened to it--and if not where did you get your version?

    Thanks--from a desperate librarian!

    1. Hey Melissa! We got the audio CDs from the publisher and haven't had any issues. That is so bizarre!! Did you order it from the publisher? If so, they'd probably be happy to help you. Let me know if you need a contact email.


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