The Name of the Star (The Shades of London) - Maureen Johnson
I won this in a First Reads Giveaway.

I fucking loved this book so much. I liked the characters. They were normal people with their own personality. They weren't made up to be larger than life or totally out there. I wanted to know what went on in their day to day lives and liked them. I liked the build up and really read for the characters so more time to get to know them works for me. As an American Girl who dreams of visiting London for an extended period of time I found the adjusting and facts Rory was learning were great. I loved how the romance was minor and not played up or the main focus of the book. I actually laughed, smiled and smirked a lot during this book, which isn't a common occurrence for me. I liked how the characters were funny. It is dark, gruesome and detailed for the murders and yes, that's a good thing. Not including the reality, the harshness of the Ripper murders would be a huge drawback. I don't like books that sugar coat, overlook or just ignore the brutality of reality when it comes to things like this. Yes, include it. Not because I like reading it, but because it makes me uncomfortable. Because it's suppose to make the reader squirm. I would have been so annoyed with hiding these facts to "protect the children". I love the premise, and how it turned out. The only part I really saw coming was the ghost part but that's a given with the book's blurb. Everything else was unexpected, especially the twist at the end. Holy shit. I think this is book I've been looking for lately. Not only did I love it, but I'm actually anxiously awaiting the sequel to continue the story. I've never read a book by this author before, but I definitely will be reading all of them now.

Also, you sneaky sneaky publisher sending me a flyer about other books like this one. It worked, several of them are now on my to-read list.

I'm hooked and not going to fight it, I'm enjoying it too much.

More Specific: (Might be spoilers below. I tried to avoid them but I could have slipped so beware) This is my take on some of the negative things people brought up regarding the book to explain why I loved this book and didn't have the same problems with it.

Absent Parents: A lot of YA have an issue with this. In this book, I don't think it's a problem. The parents are absent for a reason. They do call and check in often, becoming more frequent with the murders going on. Rory's parents talk about having her leave during the weekends and then talk about pulling her out of school. They don't take her out of school, not because they don't care. The school, the police and Rory have been assuring all the parents that the kids will be fine at school. I find it disingenuous to say the parents didn't bat an eye at the murders. They certainly did. They called Rory every two hours to check in with her and freaked out over the whole thing. While other kids were pulled out of school, plenty more students stayed in school along with Rory during the Rippergate. I mean are you saying all those parents don't care enough about their kids because they didn't pull them out of school immediately? Pfffft. That's judgmental and just insulting. I think if my little one was the in same situation as Rory, I probably wouldn't have pulled her out of school unless she wanted to leave.

The Mean Overachieving Girl being the Arch-nemesis: I looked at it differently than negative reviewers. It isn't just because she's an overachiever. Rory is studious and her roommate, Jazza is an overachiever too. Charlotte is the mean girl because she and Jazza have history. Rory is friends with Jazza so because of that Charlotte is out. Plus when the incident with Rory wearing her uniform to dinner made her feel worse when she was already nervous and insecure. That wasn't actually Charlotte's fault but she didn't tell Rory to change or wait for her so Rory wasn't feeling very nice to Charlotte. With the addition of clicking in with Jazza, Charlotte is just a girl they don't like and that Jazza definitely has a problem with. I'm sure more of their history will be revealed to understand this dynamic better. If we don't get more information for it to be clearer in the next book, then it's a major failure and drawback for me.

I mean really she isn't made out to be that bad. The most we get is the competition between her and Jazza. Jazz does something stupid and risky to fuck with Charlotte's head and Charlotte dating a guy Jazza broke up with to mess with Jazza. Charlotte didn't even use her powers as perfect to harass the girls. Charlotte didn't even bother checking their room everyday because they are cleanly. Charlotte didn't spread the information around about Jazza and Rory sneaking out. Charlotte did try to be nice to Rory and the worst thing that happens is Rory describing Charlotte and her hair coming and going. Rory finds her annoying because Charlotte talks about Oxford all the time, which Rory has nothing to say on the subject and Charlotte likes field hockey while Rory hates all sports. It's all very minor and high school-y. I wouldn't call her an Arch-nemesis. Charlotte certainly wasn't being bashed for being an overachiever when both Jazza and Rory are as well. I mean really, I don't see any bashing going on at all. Jazza and Charlotte have history, a competition.

I'm rather curious to where this is going to with Charlotte. With Charlotte's brush with death, she could grow into a true Arch-nemesis or the new recruit. If she becomes the new recruit and befriends Rory, Jazza could be left out and become an Arch-nemesis. Or it could go the boring route and they just all become friends.

The Writing: I do agree I can see the author becoming better. It's wasn't particularly amazing but it wasn't bad either. However, it had personality and in some places it was great. I have several places marked for turns of phrases, sentences and descriptions that I liked or loved. At last count I had 10. It was narrated by a young woman and it really read that way. It the parts that weren't narrated by Rory, I didn't see any problem either. Of course, it's possible that I missed things that other readers noticed. I was entirely wrapped up in the characters and story itself too much to pay attention. So if there's issues, it was so minor or so unnoticeable to really matter to someone who's involved in the book. If this makes me a philistine, then oh well, I'm enjoying it. I also found it funny. I usually don't say that about books unless it's a Pratchett. I laughed out loud at several places, smiled at others and smirked a lot.

The Slow Build up & the Villain:
I do see why people complained about the slow build up and such. I found it rather exciting and intriguing. The difference was that I was into the characters. I wanted to know the day to day life they lead. I really liked it and so I didn't find it slow or boring. I liked the characters, just being average people. I found they had personality and were engaging. I also think the build up is important not just for the characters but for the story in general. The build up is for fear. Fear plays a big part in understanding things, like the villain. For people who didn't get why the villain did what he did when he could have just avoided it, it was The Fear. The all encompassing, life breaking people altering fear. I've known that fear. I've lived that with kind of fear for years. I've changed, my actions and my routine has changed even to this day due to that lingering fear.

Of course, he went out to get the very thing, the very people that could destroy him. He couldn't live with the fear of accidentally running into that in a place, in a way he couldn't control. That fear takes all your control, your very life away. It makes sense, but it's not rational. People aren't entirely rational. Also, Boo is the only one in the ghost squad who doesn't want to explode them all away. Jo is still around because of her, not the two guys. The two guys don't care and just explode every ghost they run into. So yeah even if villain didn't cause trouble he might have been eliminated after all, if he ran into those two. Who wants the fear of just walking around minding your own business and then running into the very people who fear and could end you? I totally get it. It's kind of like having a stalker. Besides, it's clear the villain was enjoying his whole plan, murders included. He enjoyed having the power and wants to be unstoppable. He's a serial killer with clear motives.