Rory moves with her family from the U.S. to England and is about to start at a boarding school in London. What she thought would be an exciting new start at a new school becomes a frightening experience when the city is on lock-down after a series of murders that mimic that of Jack the Ripper’s. All of London becomes entranced with “Rippermania” and Rory unwittingly realizes she may be the only one who had seen the suspect, right before one of the murders. She then becomes the target of the killer and must put a stop to it before it costs her her life.
This was the first Maureen Johnson book I read, and perhaps because of her hilariously zany persona on Twitter, I was half-expecting this to be similar. Her actual writing style is must more toned down that her social media presence and it certainly worked in this case. I must say, I do like the new revised cover more than this one pictured here (which is the copy I have). This original cover makes it look like a ghostly, historical fiction read, which is creepy and fitting, but it gives the impression that the story is set back in the day. I hadn’t realized, before reading the synopsis, that it was actually set in present day.
I found that the parts of the story pertaining to Rory and her life in the boarding school to be a bit boring. I didn’t care about the high school politics and social ladder with the people around her. I wanted to know more about the crimes and how it was all related and interconnected with Rory! I did like that she was a tough female character, still with her own vulnerabilities. It felt very close to what Maureen perpetuates online of her beliefs in gender equality and such (ie. her latest challenge on having gender swapped book cover designs).
Initially, I didn’t understand the significance of the title until it was somewhat used in context. I loved the underlying message on the media “creating” a celebrity of sorts out of murderers and criminals with the coverage – hence “Rippermania”.
While the ending seemed a bit formulaic with the baddie spilling their life story and motive, overall, it was a pretty interesting read. I was surprised at the supernatural turn it takes, although I’m not sure why I was really all that surprised. I am curious to where the sequel will take the story though. The Ripper story line was what hooked me in to this first one, I don’t know if I’m as invested in Rory’s life if it’s just about her.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4/5 stars)
Available: September 29, 2011
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Read as part of Brunch Book Club with Lost in a Great Book.
Wrap up discussion to come in the coming weeks.