Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: September 29th 2011
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I've been reading a lot of YA over winter break, and so far, this book has been my favorite from the enormous (virtual) pile I've been working through on my Kindle. It's hard for me to review just this book because when I finished it, I immediately bought the second book in the series (it's called The Madness Underneath and it is, if possible, even more awesome), but I will do my best. There are a lot of reasons to love The Name of the Star, so let's dive right in.
First of all, there's the main character. Rory has a great voice; she's funny and sassy and although her character is far from perfect, she remains sympathetic throughout the novel. Seeing London through a foreigner's eyes lets readers like me ease into the unfamiliar setting, and even though I've never visited, the place felt like home by the end of the book. Speaking of London, let me just spare a moment to praise the setting: Wexford feels just like a real English boarding school should, and Maureen Johnson paints a vivid picture of the city that surrounds it.
The characters aside from Rory are fun as well. Although her propensity towards giving girls weird nicknames is a little annoying - Rory's real name is Aurora, and the two other major female characters' names have been shortened to Jazza and Boo, respectively - the characters behind them are well-rounded and interesting. And the boys...oh man. I don't want to give anything away, but let's just say that the love interest in this series is not who you'd expect it to be, and you're going to fall in love with him right alongside Rory.
There is a distinct change in the book's tone once Rory discovers she has a special ability (can't tell you anymore, spoilers!). It gets a lot darker and a lot more plot-driven, but the pacing works, and the second book ratchets up the tension even more.
Overall, the Shades of London series is really promising. I can't wait for the third book to come out in 2014!