I don’t have a good intro for this one. Other than thanks to Penguin Young Readers, ALA and Comic Con for hooking us up with advance copies.
The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.
Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.
Caitlin: I love Maureen Johnson. I love her (online) personality and how it shines through in her books, though not in a distracting way. I love how she writes teenagers and high school and makes everything feel so real. So, when I heard GHOSTS and JACK THE RIPPER I was very excited. Beyond excited. I needed this book.
And from the introduction about Rory’s quirky hometown in Louisiana to her strange and public near death experience, I knew we were in for an awesome literary treat from Maureen Johnson.
Kate: I will chime in now and say that I loved Rory’s hometown. I live in Louisiana and nine times out of ten I end up offended by books set here. But I thought that it was so perfect and quirky and done with a lot of thought and respect. There was so much character in that town and I could really see how it shaped Rory.
Christine: I hate admitting it, but this is actually the first book of Maureen’s I’ve read. I’ve been following her on Twitter for ages and I’ve been meaning to read her books (I swear, I have — THREE of her books are currently sitting on my TBR bookcase), but it wasn’t until this book that something just clicked for me. I think it was the incorporation of Jack the Ripper, since I’ve always been fascinated with the unsolved case, as I’m sure most people are.
Kate: This was also my first book for Maureen Johnson as well, and Jack the Ripper was what kind of sucked me in too. For inexplicable reasons, I love books about serial killers (preferably books about vanquishing them).
Caitlin: While I’ve read everything she’s written ever and I need more More MORE!
I might be a bit of a crazy, stalker….er…fan. Anywhos. This book was fantastic.
The cast of characters and setting was just perfect to me. The English Secondary school (or six form…or whatever..I do not understand English schools no matter how much Harry Potter I have read. Though, from what I DO understand, I believe these characters are the muggle version of NEWT students.) interspersed with the panic and media frenzy that takes a hold of London and the mystery and the paranormal…all these different elements that came together so well.
Kate: I loved the first half of the book, watching Rory settle in to this school and meet these new people and try to figure out what the hell was going on. The jump from an American public school to a British boarding school? So big. And the tone and Rory’s voice really captured that newness and insecurity for me while also showing off how amazingly resilient Rory is. She might have felt the terror on the inside, but outside she was managing. And not perfectly or how she wishes all the time, which was a nice change.
Christine: I also don’t completely understand the British school system. Someone once tried explaining it to me, having gone through it himself, but it still kind of boggled my mind. Having to deal with moving to a different state is such a huge change that I can’t imagine moving to another country, but Rory handled herself very well. She had only a few bumps in the road before she felt comfortable there. You have to admire someone who can do that
Kate: I think what helped her there was Jazza, who I thought was great. She was a good kid without being a stick in the mud. And I loved how real her relationship was with Rory and how much they supported each other, even before they knew really each other. You don’t see too many awesome relationships between girls in YA lately, and Rory and Jazza reminded me of how much I was missing this angle in YA.
Caitlin: YES! I loved Jazza! She was great. And I loved how Rory had a THING with Jerome (that Jazza thought was “pahh-fect”) but the THING wasn’t the be all and end all of Rory’s life. In fact I got the impression that it wouldn’t even last the trilogy. At least, I’m hoping something happens with a certain other, taciturn character. Who MAY have given Jerome a LOOK. I like relationship drama.
Kate: I think Jerome just kind of fizzled, the way much of what Rory was interested in the first half of the book did. I understand why it happened. She was learning what to be interested in and then WHAM SERIAL KILLERS AND GHOSTS WHAT THE HELL, so clearly everything about her life is going to change. But I DID miss Jazza in the second half of the book, as I infinitely preferred her to Boo.
Christine: Yeah, about halfway through, the Ripper murders come to the forefront of the story and, unfortunately, everyone that was there for the first half of the book kind of fall to the wayside. I hope Jazza is around more in the second book, as I also liked her more than Boo.I never got the feeling that this series would be romance heavy, which is completely fine with me. Maureen can hold my interest with her humor and plot without involving romance — or even boys — at all. However, there was a certainguy I wish to know more about. He doesn’t have to necessarily become involved with Rory, but he intrigues me, as I think he will everyone who reads this book.
Caitlin: Was this the same I was talking about, the taciturn one? If so, then I agree. He intrigues me.
Christine: Yes, one in the same.
Caitlin: Good, good! I think we need to talk about the ending. I know it will be hard without spoiling anything but…what an ending! The pahh-fect type of cliffhanger. The plot ends, everything makes sense and then WHAM! Cliffhanger.
Kate: I did not realize when I read this book that it was he start of a series. So…I was actually kind of grumbly at the end. I mean, the PLOT of the book was resolved, for sure, but there was so much more left. Like…taciturn guy. I wish we’d found out a LEETLE bit more about him in this book because I loved him so much.
Christine: I’m so glad I’m not the only one who liked him more than Jerome. I thought I’d be ostracized again since my tastes don’t always align with everyone else’s [see: Will vs Jem, the ongoing battle]. But I was very happy with the ending. I’ve gotten so used to first books just ending without any resolution on ANYTHING that actually having some resolution was a nice change of pace. And now I eagerly await the next book while trying to figure out how the cliffhanger will affect not only Rory, but how everyone interacts with her once they find out.
Kate: I eagerly anticipate more Jazza. And more Stephen.
Caitlin: Resolution and cliffhanger! And how she’s going to HAVE to stay in London but her parents totally don’t want her too and and and and and I’m freaking out just thinking about ALL THE THINGS!
Christine: Last thing, and this doesn’t have anything to do with the book really, but every time I look at the cover, the guy on there looks like Ashton Kutcher. Does anyone else see this, or am I crazy?
Caitlin: You’re crazy.
Kate: Clearly blind.
Christine: Thanks, Caitlin. But y’all should look at the cover and judge for yourself. Also, you should read the book.
Caitlin: I agree with that. You should all read the book.