by Judith A. Hayn
Johnson, M. (2011). The name of the star. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Maureen Johnson’s latest novel for teens features Rory Deveaux, who has arrived from her Louisiana bayou home as a new student in a London boarding school. Auspiciously, a modern day Jack the Ripper has just begun a rampage which mimics the actions of the 1888 killer who was never caught. Rory swears she saw Jack, but no one else can confirm it. Her roommate Jazza and her crush Jerome, a Ripper conspiracy theorist, offer support but are confused. Then she meets three young adults who offer an explanation. They are now Shades, ghosts who work secretly for the government. They inform Rory that a near-death choking experience has given her the sight. She can indeed see ghosts, and Jack the Ripper is one! Jack is coming after Rory to stop her from identifying him, and the stakes are high. This paranormal romp is filled with adolescent angst and hormones, but nothing stops the growing terror until the final showdown in a boarding school bathroom. Rory is forthright and funny, and readers will follow her adventures with empathy. The city of London emerges as more than the setting, developing as a character that gives realism to the plot.
Dr. Judith A. Hayn is an Associate Professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
This article is part of a series from the Special Interest Group Network on Adolescent Literature (SIGNAL).
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