Next-in-Reading #1: The Name of the Star

Next In ReadingTitle: The Name of the Star
Maureen Johnson
Harper Collins

“”Fear can’t hurt you,” she said. “When it washes over you, give it no power. It’s a snake with no venom. Remember that. That knowledge can save you.””

Many thanks to Nicole, who sent this signed copy all the way from the UK
Many thanks to Nicole, who sent this signed copy all the way from the UK

Aurora “Rory” Deveaux arrives at Wexford, a boarding school in London, in the thick of a series of murders happening in the area. While adjusting to school, Rory not only has to deal with the murderous fear crawling through the streets, Ripperologists, and also the people only she (and possibly a few others) can see.


Rory Deveaux, Unplanned Supernaturalist…

My initial thoughts on Rory was how she was a typical American teenager trying to fit into a culture which she probably thought was similar (constant mention of research and what she had read about London), but so different and unexpected upon discovery.

Throughout the story, she maintains an inquisitive persona, probably attributed to her adjustments in both her physical environment and emotional adaptation (after finding out about her powers). However, she may be more attuned to the supernatural than she thinks.

Apart from the mysterious aura surrounding her place of origin, descriptions of her family, especially Cousin Diane, stand out. From what you will notice as you read this book, Rory’s family is rather prominent where they come from, but why the constant mention of Cousin Diane and, more specifically, her “angels”?



Thriller stories operate on fear to move the plot and character development. The fear in this book comes multi-layered – fear of death (students, people in London) with the murderer crawling around, fear of losing security (protocols, warnings, police), fear of being an outcast (Rory when she started, when she first joined the Shades, when she sees people her friends do not).


Though confused and possibly wanting no part in the powers she had been bestowed with, Rory continues to press on, even asking about how death is like in order to alleviate the shock should she face it. Josephine, one of her ghost friends, also tells her, “Fortune favors the brave,” something the ghost sees through together with Rory to the end.

Being Watched…

Not only by the CCTVs around the city or the police, but also by the invisible (or ghosts, in this case), the situation, in this case, is reversed when humans, usually the ones seen to have the power or control, end up being the controlled and the watched. Main examples in the book include James Goode and the perpetrator’s version of the Ripper’s “From Hell” letter and Ripperologist Richard Eakles and his attack before leaving a threatening message.

Style & Structure

Style-wise, this thriller is fast-paced and action-packed. What was quite noticeable was the organization of the story – there were five sections, and the Canonical Five in the real case of Jack the Ripper. What I found most interesting was the parallel progression between the two, with each section subtly hinting the progression of the real Ripper’s crimes in the late 1800s and following Rory’s journey through this period of her life.

To find out more about The Name of the Star, click here. Or you can find out more about Maureen Johnson and her books here.

In the meantime…

Here's a sneak peek on the next book to appear on Next in Reading =)
Here’s a sneak peek on the next book to appear on Next in Reading!

And I’ll see you next week!

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