Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

6 February, 2013 Reviews 4 comments

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen JohnsonThe Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
Series: Shades of London #2
Published by HarperCollins Children's Books on 26th February 2013
Pages: 352
Genres: Paranormal Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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's become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. 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.

Waiting for a sequel can be painful. Just when you thought everything had resolved in the first first book, it plot-twisted unexpectedly, leaving you feeling like the sabre-toothed squirrel in the Ice Age movies. You need to read the second, because you need. to know. what happens. next.

The Name of the Star wasn’t like this for me. Everything resolved neatly in the end, so when I found out about the second book I was interested instead because I loved Rory’s point of view and had fallen in love with the setting and Maureen Johnson’s take on the whole realm of ghosts.

The Madness Underneath started much like The Name of the Star, from a seemingly random Londoners perspective, right before they’re murdered in a strange way. I thought, “ooh, here we go,” expecting a thrilling buildup to when we would find the killer in the grand finale. To my disappointment, Rory solved and dealt with the crime almost instantly.

So where was the story going?

This is the biggest problem I had with this book. A large portion of it just felt a bit directionless. I liked to see Rory discovering the world around her, but 80% of the book consisted of Rory being concerned with her slipping grades and not much else. The story became Rory’s transition from confused and impassive to more confused and more impassive. What I really wanted to see was Rory’s journey to coming to terms with who she was. I wanted to see her get stronger and take more initiative.

The eventual climax of the book was interesting, but I didn’t feel scared enough about Rory being safe from the antagonist because there wasn’t enough buildup. It didn’t even feel like what happened at the end was the central problem of the book. And then the book ended in an entirely different direction than I would have imagined, and not in an awesome plot-twisty way. It seemed more of an afterthought, an addition that was compelling, but still felt out of place in all that had happened up to that point.

It wasn’t a bad book, and I would be interested in reading the third, because I really do enjoy Rory as well as Boo, Callum, Stephen. I would hope in the third book that we will see more of these side characters, because though all of them made appearances every now and then, they were very hidden away in their own lives, and other than with Stephen, none of them continued to be as fleshed out as they were in the Name of the Star.

If you are interested in the series I think you will enjoy The Madness Underneath, even though it did seem to suffer a bit from second-book syndrome in the way that it didn’t provide much of an impact. Hopefully the third will make it worth sticking around.

ARC was acquired via NetGalley. Thank you!

Adrienne Fray

Adrienne Fray

Reviewer at Cuddlebuggery
Born and raised in the middle of a desolate expanse of prairie land, Adrienne has learnt quickly that there are only two options for a happy survival: read constantly, or become very, very bored. Find her on GoodReads.

4 Responses to “Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson”

  1. EscapeInABook

    I read the first book in this series last year and reviewed it on the blog today. I felt kind of the same way you did with the second book for the first one. So I think I’ll just jump of this series now. Thank you for your wonderful and honest review 🙂

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