Sunday, April 7, 2013
Caught In Between: The Madness Underneath
Maureen Johnson picks up right where she left off in this second installment of her Shades of London series, giving readers more insights into the world of ghosts in modern London.
So if you haven't read The Name of the Star yet, you probably want to stop reading this review right now because it's impossible to talk about aspects of this book without spoiling a few things in the first.
Rory has been with her parents in Bristol for a few weeks following being attacked by the ghost who was recreating the Jack the Ripper murders, and she doesn't want to talk about what happened. If she told her therapist or parents the truth, they'd think she's crazy. She hasn't been able to get in touch with Boo, Callum, or Stephen, the members of the Shades and the only other people who know what really happened and what it's like to be able to see ghosts. And then there's the fact that she's become a human terminus - that if she touches a ghost, she kills them. Again. It's complicated. But now allowed back to Wexford, she's behind in school and there are more mysterious murders taking place.
This book very much has the feel of being the second book in a series. The plot does move along, but not in the more exciting ways of a first book where you're getting introduced to the world, the situation, the characters, and the rules. This story is much more focused on Rory and developing her, and in that light it is very successful. We also learn a bit more about Stephen (who has been one of my favorite characters from the start), and this new round of murders is as gruesome as ever.
Johnson has a particular gift for pacing in her story telling. When I started this book, I only meant to read a chapter or two and get a feel for it. Next thing I knew, it was 2 hours later and I was halfway done. I had become so wrapped up in Rory's thoughts and getting to know her again, which is a fun 'problem' to have with a book.
While we get a lot of Rory, what readers don't get is time with some of the really colorful and interesting secondary characters from Wexford that we got to know before. I think this largely has to do with the time span of this installment - while the first book took place over a few months, I think this takes place just over the course of a week.
And then there was the matter of the ending. It was an interesting twist to be sure - I certainly wasn't expecting it - but it will be interesting to see how Johnson can write a satisfactory conclusion to this new situation in book 3 (or maybe she doesn't intend to. Only time will tell).
If you read the first book in this series, I say absolutely pick this one up, too. I didn't love it as much as the first, but personally I'm so attached to some of these characters that I needed to see what happened next.
Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!
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