An Un-Calibrated Centrifuge

My dad once said to me, "You give a lot of books three stars." I do.

The Name of the Star (Shades of London Series #1)

The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson I often have trouble explaining why I think something is good. I don’t really know why this is. I think people agree more readily about what makes something bad than what makes something good. However, I often think things are awful that other people love, so what do I know? I also get nervous that my love for a book blinds my ability to look at it objectively. I am definitely more willing to forgive problems in something I like than I am to forgive the same problems in something I dislike.That said, is The Name of the Star perfect? No. But while I was reading it I kept thinking, “This book is insane, but I LOVE IT!!!” That’s pretty much how I still feel about it.The Name of the Star is a departure from Maureen Johnson’s other YA novels. It’s a contemporary YA novel complete with school/friend drama and teenage romance that’s also a mystery/thriller with some sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal-ness, too. I like that Maureen Johnson doesn’t shy away from writing gory murder scenes, but there’s nothing gratuitously graphic either. I also appreciate that the romance subplot does not take over the whole novel. I hope it gets developed or is concluded in future books, but I’m glad it isn’t the main focus of this book.The book is really readable, and the plot is paced well. It is slow at times, especially at the beginning and one part at the end where the villain starts monologuing, but other than that it doesn’t drag. And even though the beginning is slow, I like that Maureen Johnson takes her time and sets up normal life for the main character, Rory, in England before going into the paranormal elements of the novel. One criticism I do have is that the school story and most of those characters drop out of the novel almost entirely once the paranormal plot picks up. This didn’t bother me while I was reading the book, but looking back, I wish there had been more about Rory’s school friends in the second half.There is also some really obvious foreshadowing in the novel and a few places where the characters are a little dense which made me want to yell at them. But overall, I have very few complaints. The characters are interesting. I love the setting and the premise. It’s a quick, fun read. I have come to expect nothing less from Maureen Johnson. I didn’t know until I finished it, but this book is the first in a series. It works as a standalone novel, but also has enough of a teaser at the end that I’m really excited for the next book.