The Name of the Star
by Maureen Johnson
Book 1 of Shades of London
Here is a cautionary **SPOILER WARNING** just in case I have inadvertently given away anything significant to the story itself. I will do my best not to mention any big spoilers, but I don't always check myself accordingly.
Progress on 8/27/18: 61 of 372 pages (16%)
Some other facts I picked up:
Welsh is an actual, currently used language and our next-door neighbors Angela and Gaenor spoke it. It sounds like Wizard.
England and Britain and the United Kingdom are not the same thing. England is the country. Britain is the island containing England, Scotland, and Wales. The United Kingdom is the formal designation of England, Scotland, and Wales and Northern Ireland as a political entity. If you mess this up, you will be corrected. Repeatedly.
The English will play hockey in any weather. Thunder, lightning, plague of locusts... nothing can stop the hockey. Do not fight the hockey, for the hockey will win.
I don't know how on point these facts Rory picked up really are, but I have to admit that that last one made me chuckle and decide to write an update post.
I'm actually enjoying this book despite the fact that it's so far pretty mundane as far as stories go. The book started with the discovery of a dead body and some bloody descriptions. But then we jump right into Rory's narration, following her from Bénouville, Louisiana, to London. I've read other YAs before where the main character who has to travel to a new place tends to be a bit pouty and a sour sport about her own situation; too closed-minded, ignorant, and entirely too arrogant and rude for her own good. And usually always whining.
But I'm finding Rory's "fish out of water" experience kind of fun, if only because in spite of her ignorance, she's actually being a pretty good sport about being in a place she's unfamiliar with. It probably helps that she DID choose to come to London to study abroad herself. And it also helps that the tone of the narration is dry, a little sarcastic, and nonsensical in a way that I love.
Rory is just an ordinary girl with no "special snowflake" stats. She knows she used to be popular when she lived in Bénouville, but now she understands that at Wexford, she is neither popular nor unpopular and "was just there." She's finding the curriculum grueling and panics accordingly. She keeps quiet when she doesn't have anything to say, but will quip something sarcastic if it strikes her mood.
The fact that she's not the sporty type endears her to me, and the fact that she admits this, and the book's narration also proves this, makes her all the more likable. Because, for one, I'm not a sporty type either--give me a couch and a book any time of the day--and second, she doesn't magically become a sporty type and even dreads going to hockey. Nothing is more annoying than someone proclaiming how un-sporty she is, only to become the best field hockey player on the first day, without having had any idea how to even play the sport in the first place.
Rory's first day of field hockey was spent sitting out because she forgot her mouth guard. Her second day consisted of pouring rain, heavy goalie equipment, and the inability to move despite being yelled at by the teacher to block with her arms and legs.
Man, if I had to take a mandatory sports class regularly, I'd probably keel over and die pretty quickly.
Back to the story, I'm hoping that things pick up pretty soon, because so far we've mainly been following the copy-cat Ripper murders in the news. I'm looking forward to the moment Rory gets involved and the supernatural stuff starts to happen--in fact, I think we just met one of our resident supernatural stuff a few pages ago without realizing it yet. Just the way his introduction was written has "I'm significant to the story plot" written all over it.