During the first early wee morning’s light of the New Year, I cuddled up in our big reading chair while the rest of the house slept and treated myself to a gorgeously funny and thrilling young adult book. Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star is a gothic ghost story set in modern day London, and is centered around a teenager from New Orleans named Rory and her newfound supernatural abilities while studying abroad.
I am new to Johnson’s work, and just by looking at her cover I thought we could have been friends in high school. I have a feeling she’s just as irreverent and caustic, on occasion, as I once was—and if she wasn’t, well, her characters can be! Their personalities drew me in so quickly that I didn’t even notice a teen element. Dialogue flowed naturally, and if it wasn’t humorous, it was still entertaining.
I won’t give away the story itself, but I will say the only thing I didn’t like about it was that the villain did the whole “monologue” thing to explain his point of view. I would have much rather had details be released through the story so we readers could figure it out, too—those kinds of thrillers are so much more fun, especially when it’s a tiny, trivial detail that makes you go, “Oh!” Even so, it was so well written, engaging, and purely fun to read that I really didn’t care that much.
There are romantic elements, drama between friendships—but not annoyingly so—and other teen lit elements you might expect to be present, but the gloomy mood of London during troubled times is also captured so well here, and I would read a book featuring Rory again just to hear her goofy one-liners and Southern logic.
It’s a very unique idea for a story with such a wonderfully twisted ending. It’s not terror-twisted—although there are a few moments in this book that will make your gut clench, no doubt, particularly one involving a camera—but rather inspired, and, dare I say, open for a sequel?
I would love to revisit these characters once again in the future. I wonder if Johnson has plans on revisiting them, too? If so, I’d buy the sequel immediately upon release. And in the meantime, I hear she has several other books just waiting for me to check out while I wait and wonder...