Part of me almost pushed off this review to read Book 3 tonight. But, after finishing Book 2 before formally reviewing Book 1, I set aside Book 3. Mostly because the end of Book 2 made me want to do this:
and I didn’t want it to color my review of Book 1. I think I balanced it out pretty well though. So, before you read this review, please realize that there will probably be minor spoilers, especially for the first book.
The Madness Underneath
by Maureen Johnson
Part of the Shades of London series
After the events at the end of The Name of the Star, Rory Deveaux is trying to pick up her life and move forward. She’s in Bristol with her parents, seeing a therapist, and adapting to her new skill set. Suddenly, her therapist suggests she should go back to Wexford before finals begin. Rory jumps at the chance to be back with both her school friends, and to find the Shades (Stephen, Boo and Callum). No matter how she looks or what she expects, the school isn’t what she left and neither is the city of London. Unexplainable deaths are becoming a frequent occurrence, and Rory thinks they are no coincidence.
Does anyone really like the second of something in a series? I mean, are there any books or movies that you finish and go “Wow. That was so much better than the first”? This one didn’t change that impression. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the book – I did!
Rory spends a good bit of the book lost and broken. I get it — I’ve had life altering experiences on a little less grand of a scale, and I needed more than a few weeks to get back to normal. But I wasn’t spending winter in London.
I mean, London:
Yeah, I think this would help the spirits a little.
….Pun not intended.
Things I liked:
I still enjoy Rory. I really don’t find her whiny and annoying at all. I don’t just like her, but I relate to her. She shows Jazza her scar and goes on a long rant about how her grandmother’s scar from a 20% off boob job is so much worse. I just….felt her reactions were genuine. I’ve played off my own scars enough times. And then when she and Stephen go to see Sam, she starts comparing her experience to her relationship with water parks. She thinks she wants to go, but when she gets there, it’s terrible and she freaks out. She is humorous and sarcastic without telling people she is. Rory is genuinely a lead heroine I like.
More Stephen, yay! I wish I knew what I liked about Stephen. There is something so innately British and posh and reserved about him that I like. And apparently there is a novella from his POV (OKAY QUICK SIDE NOTE. When did this become such a thing? Seriously, when. I don’t necessarily dislike it, but I’m not sure I always enjoy it.) But if someone can help me find this book that apparently doesn’t sell state side?
Also, Quotes like this:
Life is always going to be a series of ouch-making moments, and the question was, was I going to go all fetal position, or was I going to woman up? I went into fetal position on the bed to think about this. Fetal position turned out to be very comfortable.” — Maureen Johnson
“But here I was,quasi-boyfriend saying he wanted to take me on an actual date, and I was just staring at him impassively, like a horse watching a mime pretending to walk against the wind.” – Maureen Johnson
Things I didn’t care for:
Most of the story is sloooow. Again, I attribute this to the normal second something of a series. There has to be a build up before the explosive third book. I found the storyline with Jane a bit too predictable at times, and the way Wexford treated Rory a bit off. I mean, they shouldn’t have let her come back. And if the Shades forced them to let her, then they needed to somehow convince them just to let her pass all of her finals with ease.
Or just take them later. I don’t know. I had a car accident happen that caused me to miss the last month of a semester of university. They let me take my finals in April (accident happened in November). They didn’t have to be like that.
Mini-rant aside, Rory did start telling more than showing this book. Multiple references to how she is when she gets an idea…the first book showed this well. It didn’t necessarily have to tell me multiple times in the second.
I can’t talk about the ending without spoiling everything, but it made me want to do this:
And my reasons why aren’t necessarily inline with why most people might want to do this. But if you’ve read the book and want to discuss, let me know!
Still loving the series, still recommending it. Now I can pick up the third book!