Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Title: The Madness Underneath
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Released: February 26th 2013
Pages: 290 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
Add on Goodreads

When madness stalks the streets of London, no one is safe…

There's a creepy new terror haunting modern-day London.
Fresh from defeating a Jack the Ripper killer, Rory must put her new-found hunting skills to the test before all hell breaks loose…

But enemies are not always who you expect them to be and crazy times call for crazy solutions. A thrilling teen mystery.

Do you ever read a book that you just don't know how to review? For me, this is one of them. I'm trying to find the words to explain how I feel about this read, but nothing I think of really sums up what I mean. I guess the closest thing to it would be disappointing.

In this sequel to The Name of the Star, we see protagonist Rory returning to Wexford in the wake of the Ripper attack. As the only terminus available, Rory offers her services to Stephen, Boo and Callum once again - and just in time, as more ghosts are making an appearance. Could it be simply a coincidence, or is it interlinked with the previous attack? And who can she really trust, when no one is as they first seem?

I've missed Rory's sarcasm the most. In The Name of the Star, she was this bright fireball of wit who lit up every single page, whether it was a flag in the storyline or an intense battle sequence. However, in this novel, that fire of hers just sputtered out. She became dull, irrational, annoying and needy. She wasn't the Rory I had come to know and love, so although it was nice to see a return of her sarcastic nature, it just didn't have the same effect.

The secondary characterisation just fell through. In the first book, it seemed like every character was bathed in Rory's brilliance and was able to excel, bringing plot twists and turns to the narrative. I loved Jerome and Jazza, loved Stephen, Callum and Boo. But yet again, it just didn't seem to work out like last time. They barely starred in the book, and when they did they were just washed-out versions of their former selves. If that doesn't scream disappointment, then I don't know what does.

The plot itself was okay enough. I'm not usually one for ghosts, but Johnson's imagination just creates scenarios that you can't help but love. Again, the plot wasn't as good as the first book, but it was by far the best part of this book. It's only the plot that makes me consider reading the next book - if it was for the characterisation, I'd just have to shove it onto my No Thank You pile.

This is a classic example of second book syndrome. The first book is amazing, but the second book just seems to trip over every single hurdle. When I started The Name of the Star, I went into it hesitantly, as I'd really not liked Johnson's other novel, 13 Little Blue Envelopes. However, TNotS put my faith back in the author, because it highlighted all of her best abilities. This has given me reason to doubt her again.
Rating: 2/5


  1. Nice review all the same! I heard quite a few people had trouble with this one. That it just wasn't on par with the first one. I bought it myself, but have yet to read it. People were saying there was a not so pretty cliffhanger so I thought just to wait to read it til it was closer to the third one's release. And it's looking like that just might be a good idea! Still, very nice review, not too bashing on it, just pointing out why you didn't like things.

    1. It wasn't at all, but I'm still holding out for the third instalment. Thank you :)