A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Provides lots of detail about the original Jack the Ripper murders in 1888 -- not just the grisly details but the history of how the press and the police handled the case. Also includes details about modern London: its extensive camera surveillance system, the Underground, and the British Museum. English boarding school life (minus Harry Potter magic) is also well described.
Great talking points abound about how the press and the public handle this modern-day Ripper story. The sensationalism may not even seem extreme to kids raised around media today. It's only surprising that the press in 1888 also had a field day sensationalizing the story. Also: Rory is given some advice that helps her. A character tells her, "Fear can't hurt you. ... When it washes over you, give it no power."
Positive Role Models
Rory's No. 1 asset is bravery. She's also a devoted friend and one excited about learning about a new culture and sharing her culture with others.
Violence & Scariness
Descriptions of both historical and modern Ripper murders are gory: Organs carefully removed and placed around bodies. But only once is there a near replay of the actual crime taking place. Rory, the main character, nearly chokes to death at dinner and is in danger from the Ripper and cut. Those protecting her are poisoned to near death and suffer broken bones. Events described in the recent past include a near suicide by hanging, an electrocution, a motorcycle accident, and a drunken car wreck. There's also talk of experimenting on live humans, what life and death was like in air raid shelters during WWII, and police officers dying in a raid.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some kissing in libraries and on school benches. Some nonsexual undressing, and bare butts are compared in pieces of art at the British Museum in a pretty funny scene.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Pretty light: "Hell," "jackass," "s--te" with the British "e."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Cheez Whiz is shipped from the U.S. and consumed in mass quantities. Plus mentions of iPod, Walkman, and the Spice Girls.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
British students drink (legally) at a party and stash booze (kind of illegally unless they're 18) in their rooms. In the girls' dorm, girls often drink. One character reveals that she almost died in a drunk driving accident and lost her friend, the driver. An adult drinks whiskey in excess and vomits. Students go to nearby pubs to drink.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Name of the Star is the first book in the Shades of London series and talks extensively of the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888 as they are recreated in modern London. Details of crime scenes are given -- and they're gory with organs rearranged -- but only once is the crime somewhat replayed. Rory, the main character, has seen the modern-day murderer and is in constant danger. She's cut and those protecting her are injured seriously as well. There's lots of talk of near-death experiences, including a drunk driving accident. Language is light and so is the sexual content (just lots of kissing), while drinking is a bit heavier; it's legal in England at 18 and most students are 17 and 18, but they stockpile booze in their rooms and drink to excess. Readers will learn a lot about English history and boarding school life.
Is It Any Good?
Here's a page-turner ideal for fans of Cassandra Clare (good call quoting her praise on the paperback's cover) and her witty and bloody Mortal Instruments series. This modern-day Ripper story has plenty of mystery, suspense, gory details, and a good dose of historical perspective. Unexpected is the boarding school setting, the hip and funny teen characters, and the strong paranormal vibe. All squeezed together, THE NAME OF THE STAR is creepy, exciting fun.
Missing is a bit more depth to the paranormal angle -- those secret police devices could use some work. It's the only weak spot in an otherwise fantastic genre mashup.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.