Jun 1, 2013

The Name of the Star/The Madness Underneath

I recently reread Maureen Johnson's (follow her on Twitter if you haven't already) The Name of the Star to prepare myself for the sequel, The Madness Underneath.  While I still love NotS, I had mixed feelings about MU.

NofS is a paranormal mystery.  Someone in London is recreating the murders of Jack the Ripper.  Rory, a new American boarding school student with the new ability to see and interact with ghosts, is pulled into a ghost police task force in order to aid the investigation - all the while dealing with school, friends, boys, and the ever-increasing "Ripper Mania" that engulfs the area as the people await more murders.  It's a thrilling adventure, often funny, and a great commentary on the celebrity status of monstrous people.

I loved it as much as I did the first time I read it.

However, the sequel didn't live up to its predecessor.  Too much of the novel is spent rehashing the events of the first, with a great focus on Rory's discomfort about her abilities and fear for what will happen to her now. While that focus is to be expected as she went through a terrible ordeal, too much of the novel is spent dissecting her thoughts and not enough focus on the current paranormal adventure. There are people inexplicably dying and not enough explaining.  It frustrated me.

The ending did pick up, however, and there will be a third installment to the series.  I hope that the third book is more like the first.  I've recommended NotS to many students and they've all come back saying that they loved it.  I just hope they appreciate the sequel as well and will stick around for the next book.

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