Series or Stand Alone: Book 1 in the Shades of London series
Summary: The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper in the autumn of 1888.
Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police now believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.
Maureen Johnson is quite the skilled writer. With both Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes and The Name of the Star, I wasn't sure how I felt about the books at the time I was reading them. However, once I hit the end of each novel, I realized I had been sucked into the story without realizing it. I wanted to read the next one in each series right away. Unfortunately for me, the second Shades of London book doesn't come out for quite some time. Probably like a year. As goes my entire reading life.
The Name of the Star was another missed galley for me at Book Expo. I’ve only recently started reading Maureen Johnson’s books (this past summer I read Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes and The Last Little Blue Envelope) and I liked what I saw, so I decided that I wanted to read all of the books she has written (you know that problem I have with wanting to finish all the books in a series? Sometimes I have a similar problem in wanting to read an author's entire bibliography). I was especially intrigued by the newest addition to Johnson’s works, considering it involves London, a bit of history, some ghosts, and a mysterious mass murderer.
Stop right there: I know, I know. Series. They're grating on everyone's nerves. Luckily, Johnson wrote something akin to an Agatha Christie mystery with a bit more of a pull to read the next one. The main conflict in this book is actually wrapped up within the first book (WOAH) but she pulls something at the end that made me immediately want to read the next one that of course, is not out yet. However, it's nice that I won't have to remember every detail about the first Rory Deveaux conflict when it eventually does come out. Nice one, MJ.
Rory is also adequately freaked out by both her ability and its explanation. She doesn’t cry and run away pathetically, but she also doesn’t calmly accept it. She is understandably uncomfortable with this new development in her life and shows it. I dislike when protagonists are like, “Oh, gotcha. That’s why that’s happening? Oh obviously, let me just go hone this power and be on my way.” Rory’s reaction was realistic in someone facing what she previously did not consider to be a possibility, and I commend Johnson’s ability in providing an adequate response and explanation for paranormal activity.