I have heard many good things about this book through Twitter and the varioius book review blogs that I keep up with. I asked for it on my christmas list, and have had it since. I decided to finally read it, and was disappointed that it was taking me a month to finish the book.
Now, I have never read any of Maureen Johnson's other books, so I don't know if her writing style is different in those novels. But for The Name of the Star, the writing seemed very refined, very particular, almost out of character. Now, I'm hoping that I'm not being stereotypical when I say that Rory was from Louisiana. In which case, I would have liked to see a bit of that characterization come out through Johnson's writing. To me, it was so refined that sometimes the humor she would insert into Rory's dialogue and thoughts didn't quite make it. (Some parts I did find myself laughing out loud. Especially with Callum, but more so some of Rory's reactions)
The book moves slow. I feel as though almost the entire novel is exposition. Obviously, because of the historical context with Jack the Ripper, one would need some background on the murders, etc. But there were places, like when Rory talks about her uncle to make a comparison to an event, or the whole story behind why she was going to Wexford, etc, that I felt added to the slowness, and it made me loose my interest, which was probably why it took me about a month to finish.
The characters were interesting. I would have liked to see more of Callum and Stephen. I think Boo came in way too far into the book, because that's when it started to pick up (and that's not until like, 2/3 of the way in). But when Boo comes in, you wonder why the heck Johnson suddenly inserted another character in. Luckily, that kept my interest long enough for me to want to finish the book and see what Boo had to do with the rest of the story. Because let's face it, if an author randomly inserts a character at the near middle to the end of the story - obviously this character is important.
To be fair I liked the story. It was a creative an original plot line, and I like the whole ghost aspect of it. I felt that part of the book has never really been touched on in YA novels (though I'm sure I just haven't read those kinds of books yet). And again, the whole Jack the Ripper thing was really cool. Things like that interest me, so that's another reason as to why I picked up this book in the first place.
Conclusion? I would definitely check this book out in the library, or borrow it from a friend if you like stories about the darker side of London.
Next up: Black Heart by Holly Black
Followed by: Legend by Marie Lu