Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Title: The Madness Underneath
Author: Maureen Johnson
Series: Shades of London series
Pages: 290 pages hardcover, 304 paperback/ebook
Rating: ★★★★★

I’m always afraid to start book series because the second book rarely lives up to the first. For some reason, the second book always seems like more of a way to get from A to C without really having much of a point. The Madness Underneath is not one of those books. It’s definitely not a book that can stand by itself, but it is its own book and serves a greater purpose than tying book 1 to book 3.

The Madness Underneath deals with the aftermath. The aftermath of the attack on Rory, the aftermath of her newly discovered power, the aftermath of what happened in the bathroom at Wexford. There’s a lot of material to work with in this book and Johnson does a suburb job of handling it all.

Rory has been living at home with her parents, but just wants to get back to her life in London. She wants to go back and act like she’s the same person she was before everything happened. Once back at school, she realized she’s bit off a little more than she can chew. The world didn’t stop for her while she was gone, and now she’s lagging just a little bit behind everyone else.

On top of that, she still has to deal with her new ghost knowledge and powers. There are things going on that only she and a few of her friends know about, but even they aren’t sure how to handle this new situation.

The Madness Underneath didn’t have me fearing every little noise, but it still had a sense of creepiness. There was no way to guess at what was about to happen and the ghosts are still sticking around. This was a book even better than the first. After the major cliffhanger in The Name of the Star, I thought I’d be able to handle anything Johnson threw at me. But the ending of The Madness Underneath punched me in the gut. I simply cannot wait to read what comes next.

If The Madness Underneath sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Putnam and NetGalley for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

I saw “Jack the Ripper” in the book description and I was sold. I was going to read this book. I just hoped it wouldn’t let me down. I’d read a couple books by Johnson before and enjoyed them, so I had faith in the book. Johnson didn’t let me down.

The Name of the Star takes place in London, in the midst of a Jack the Ripper copycat string of murders. Rory is new to London and is thrown into the action right away. She’s connected to the crimes in a special way and that tie is what makes this novel.

There were times this novel had me creeped out. I woke up one morning at 3am and my first thought was a Jack the Ripper ghost was staring at my back. This book had invaded my dreams and thoughts. It gave me goosebumps and I loved it.

I wasn’t a huge fan of how easily this story-line was wrapped up, and I’m sure there are people that will disagree with that. I just feel like there was a lot of build-up for something that wasn’t quite as grand as I had been expecting. It worked, but it felt a little flat.

I like Rory. She’s real and not too stereotypical when it comes to characters. She works hard, but likes to have a little fun. She has friends and people she doesn’t get along with, but no one at the school is out to get her for no reason. She’s trying to get the most out of living in London without sacrificing anything. I wasn’t sure about the supernatural aspect at first, but it’s growing on me.

There wasn’t really romance in this book; instead Johnson decided to write a different side of the high school relationship coin. A relationship between friends that crosses the friend lines at times, but doesn’t become that big serious THING other Young Adult books like to make it.

The ending of The Name of the Star had me slack-jawed and anxious to read more. This is a series that has the potential to be great and I’m looking forward to going along on the ride.

The Last Little blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Despite the slight disappointment of 13 Little Blue Envelopes, I was still wanting to read this book and see if it could top the previous.

It was better. The character were more developed and appeared more like actual people. It didn’t have that crazy travel sparkle like the first one did, but it made up for it with having real characters and I felt the dynamics were better explored in this one.

This was definitely a better book than the first, and I’m glad I made it past the first and was able to read it.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

I thought this story had a lot of possibility. It was an interest premise that could have made for a fantastic book, but it fell a little flat. It was still a good book, but there was so much possibility that wasn’t met. There were some holes in the story that distracted me, as well.

The relationships weren’t really built up as much as I’d have liked. The one exception is that between Ginny and Richard. For as little as they are together, I enjoyed how they came to view and respect each other. The relationship with Keith was different for me. I’m not sure if I like it or not. I go back and forth with each chapter.

Overall, if I’m in need of a quick, low-angst read, I might read for this one and breeze through it.