Written by: Maureen Johnson
Published by: Putnam Juvenile
Release date: February 26th, 2013
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Young Adult
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads
After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance. But Rory's brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible.
She soon finds out that the Shades—the city's secret ghost-fighting police—are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it's too late.
In this follow-up to the Edgar Award-nominated The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson adds another layer of spectacularly gruesome details to the streets of London that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
Okay so, disclaimer: This is Draft 2 of this review. I had one draft all written up, but when I went to schedule/save it, WordPress somehow lost the entire thing. So, yeah. I apologize for any craziness in this review because of that. I swear the first one was better. -_- Anyway.
The last paragraph of that blurb above ^ is not lying when it says you will be on the edge of your seat until the very end. Or at least, you will be on the edge of your seat at the very end, because Maureen Johnson is cruel and unusual and this is one of the worst cliffhangers I have ever experienced IN MY LIFE. I will be billing her for my therapy later.
But despite (and possibly because of) that, I adored this book.
The Madness Underneath has a very different feeling than The Name of the Star. My first impression, after finishing it, was that it felt like the first half of a longer story-arc – all the loose ends aren’t neatly tied up with a bow, even before “The Thing” happens and we’re left with the worst cliffhanger of all time (OF ALL TIME – I’m not getting over this one). Sorry. So, all the loose ends don’t get tied up, which is admittedly a little disappointing.
This book is also much different in its pacing. The Name of the Star had a tight progression of events, with the Ripper-timeline of subsequent murders, which kept the plot moving forward at a steady and fast pace. The Madness Underneath still has plenty of ghosts and mysterious deaths, but the timeline isn’t there. And without the timeline and sort of countdown-like suspense, it felt like the stakes weren’t as high (at least re: the murders) as they were in Book 1. It make things move a little more slowly, because the only thing driving the plot for a large portion of the book is Rory’s own curiosity about the new string of murders.
Additionally, a lot of the slow pacing came from the fact that, instead of a fully plot-driven focus, Madness focuses a lot on Rory’s personal struggles and emotional state. After what happened at the end of book 1, Rory just wants to return to Wexford, and for things to go back to normal. She’s desperate to find somewhere she belongs, but she ends up having to lie constantly to the people she’s around. She falls behind with her schoolwork, and she just can’t seem to work her way back into life at school like she wants to. It’s clear that the place she belongs is no longer Wexford, and she has a really hard time when she begins to realize that.
I actually didn’t mind the focus switching to Rory, though. I found myself really feeling for her struggles, and being drawn along with her as she loses all the normality she wants so desperately to get back. It’s heartbreaking at times, but I didn’t see any of that as a negative for the story. I know some people did, but I’m too attached to her character to feel like it was any kind of disservice to the plot, if that makes sense.
…Gosh, from what I said above, it sounds like this book is a real downer. =/ But I rated it 5 stars, right? Well, there’s a reason. My absolute favorite thing about this book was Rory and Stephen.
Confession: I am a shipper. Give me a great OTP in a book or TV show, and there is no turning back. Originally, I had my doubts that there would be any major shipper FEELS in this series, especially after Book 1 was pretty light in the meaningful-romance department… But oh boy was I wrong. Rory and Stephen sneaked up on me slowly, and wormed their way into my heart before I really had time to process it. They’re just… ugh, so good together. Their relationship grows so realistically from where it started in Book 1, and I especially loved seeing Stephen slowly realize that Rory is someone he can open up to and be himself around, while Rory realizes the same thing about Stephen. Their relationship is so well-developed, and sweet, and genuine. Ugh. Okay, I’m gushing. I’ll stop.
So, yeah. They’re the real reason this book gets 5 stars from me, if I’m being super honest. The pacing may have been slower and the plot not as tight and tied up at the end, but this book just pushed so many of my emotional buttons, I can’t NOT give it 5 stars. This is one of my new favorite series, and I cannot wait until Book 3.