The Name of the Star
written by Maureen Johnson
Release Date: September 29, 2011
There's an interesting story about how I came to own this book. I've linked to it below. I may have scared Maureen Johnson in the process. Sorry, Maureen! (I mean, I don't apologize for the enthusiasm, creepy as it was. BUT.)
The book itself, though? Definitely lives up to the hype. I've been going off on rants lately about how annoying the stretched out YA trilogies/series tend to be, but Maureen does a great job of writing a novel that can be read on its own, but does extend onwards to more books in the future. The Name of the Star is a book that isn't comparable to others in its genre. Come to think of it, it's difficult to even slap a genre label on the book, it's just that good. There's the complicated intertwining of mystery, paranormal, humor, romance, and John-Green-esque boarding school/girl-Hogwarts. Only someone as brilliant (...crazy? =P) as Maureen would have ever been able to craft such an enthralling story. Theorizing about all the impossible possibilities while reading is inevitable, and doesn't stop by the end of the book, either. The plot twists and unique spins on typical tropes kept me reading this novel in a single sitting.
It's going to be personally interesting to me to see how this book gets categorized. With the recent trend toward the 'paranormal romance' genre in YA fiction, one theoretically could label this as such. But I think it's a matter of realizing that the romance is not constantly at the forefront of the story, distinguishing this book as more of a 'supernatural' story than a 'paranormal romance'. I think this is an important distinction that is easily missed by those who are outside of the YA world, and it bothers me that a brilliant book like The Name of the Star could pretty easily be lumped in with the likes of Twilight, when the stories are worlds apart in content.
As far as appealing to an audience, the book markets itself as featuring 'ghost police'. That turned me off a bit, until I read and realized they were more of a detective force. Simple word switch that could mean a lot. (I don't know about you, but 'police' kind of makes me think of one of those cheesy predictable television crime shows.)
I mentioned before that I was glad to see a self-contained book within a series. I do hope it won't be one of those 'book by book series', with a plot of the day kind of story. I would love it if there was an overarching plot with continuity, rather than something out of a repetitive kids' series like the Animorphs books. I am still very excited to see how the story develops in the coming books, and I'm pretty excited about seeing other peoples' reactions to the book as well.
One more nitpicky frustration that has nothing to do with Maureen, though? This is one of those books where you're better off not reading the summary off the back cover. It's not too spoilery, but the story takes time to develop and I felt like reading the summary ruined that for me a bit.
I got this book from...:LeakyCon 2011! Here's the story :) Probably my favorite moment of LeakyCon, if not my life overall!