I really love Maureen Johnson. I haven't read many of her books, though the ones I have read, I've really enjoyed. Following Maureen Johnson on Twitter makes my day in so many ways. From her tweets, I think of her as funny and interesting and quirky and I will always be excited to read new books from her as well making me excited to read her backlist as well.
But I think The Name of the Star would appeal to me no matter what. I love the idea of it - on the same day American teenage girl, Rory, arrives at her boarding school in London it is announced that there has been a brutal murder in East End London which appears to be a copycat murder in the vein of Jack the Ripper. The media goes crazy over any details of the new Ripper murders which follow closely with the original killings.
Just as with the original case, the new Jack the Ripper murders hold no clues or leads until Rory is witness to a strange man on campus shortly before one of the bodies is found. Rory's involvement in the Ripper case puts her life in danger as she becomes a target of the new Ripper while at the same time Rory must grapple with new information and a new police force that shares Rory's unusual and ghostly new ability...
I really loved this book. I think Rory is an interesting main character, and I really fell in love with her as she struggles to fit into her new school, with having a roommate and wearing a uniform and playing field hockey. There's some rather embarassing moments she goes through here, but Rory is likeable enough to make some good connections with some of the other students, noteably her roommate Jazza and cute boy, Jerome. I loved the British boarding school setting, especially as seen through the eyes of an American.
I think the horrific details of the Jack the Ripper killings has had me intrigued for years, so it was fantastic to read a novel that is built around that infamous historical event. There's so much mystery that still surrounds that particular set of crimes, but I really liked the atmosphere that Maureen Johnson creates in this book. One of fear and excitement and of a London caught up in this media frenzy.
Rory seems pretty grounded through it all and is able to handle all of the weird and dangerous twists in her new life both at boarding school as well as the main witness dealing with a special group within the police force. It's a really exciting book, one I read as quickly as possible as I couldn't get enough of the details and the story. I really look forward to seeing where Maureen Johnson goes next with this fab first book in a new series! Highly recommended.