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The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson I believe this was my first Maureen Johnson read, and, I have to say, it was fairly enjoyable. I also have to say that, were it not for several positive reviews from trusted reviewers, I probably would not have picked this up based on the Putnam cover. I get what it was going for, and I am by no means an art expert, but it felt a little like a bad Photoshop compilation and didn't match the tone and feel of the story for me. Speak's cover art was more interesting and grabbed my attention.

Characters: Rory is a fairly likable protagonist. She is a good student and refrains from being too much an American and/or Southern stereotype. That said, I didn't care too much about her and often grew tired of being stuck in her head. The supporting cast is fun, but sometimes a little flat. Jazza bounces between three extremes (super nice, despising Charlotte, and no sharing "my precious" new best friend); Jerome is obsessed with the Ripper, making out, and little else; Boo is super outgoing, friendly, and prone to occasional soapboxing; and the list goes on. This isn't something I noticed much while reading, but looking back ... yep.

Romance: Not horribly present. Rory has a crush, a little "liking," but nothing deep. I could usually ignore it, though I sympathized with Alistair. I don't care to watch you make out either, and the connecting drool bit? Was that really necessary?

Plot: Rory joins a London boarding school for her senior year of high school just as a Jack the Ripper copycat strikes, and fear, tourism, choking and ghosts ensue. The big twist was a little much for me, and the bad guy's actions and motivations were a stretch. At story's end, I was left with more than a few questions about this world.

Writing: I hate to nitpick on the same thing all the time, but bloomin' first person. The writing style and the voice and tone are decent, but it's coming from a character I didn't love and limiting the amount of information I receive. The clips in third person read smoothly, still from a main character's perspective; for me, the novel would be more effective were the entire story told in third person.

Conclusion: That was the best plan they could come up with? And nobody died, except another ghost we got to know through one "no fear" speech? I was disappointed by the big climax(es). I had been reading straight through, waiting to see how the author tied things up, and both the setup and execution were less than I'd hoped. Okay, but less than I'd hoped.

Final Thoughts: Despite its flaws, I did enjoy this story. It was an interesting twist on the typical boarding school mystery. However, I'm not planning on coming back for Book 2. I'm satisfied with where this story ended and not anxious to be in Rory's head again, especially with the likelihood for angst and increased romance.