After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Deveaux 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 to get back to her friends. 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.
To be honest, I'm not quite sure what to make of this series. Book the first was creepy and enjoyable, but there was a longish wait for book the second and an enormous break between 2 and 3, and I lost my motivation to dive right in, so I didn't buy it right away and after I did, it then sat on my shelf for months. Now to be fair, I had a baby, so I haven't been as prolific as normal and things languish a bit, even if I am dying to read them.
The Madness Underneath lacked all the creepy atmosphere that book the first had for me, it also completely moved away from the Jack the Ripper story line which was part of what I had loved about the first book. Instead, this part of the book seemed to be a continuation of Rory's adventures with ghosts, and a discovery book about where this would lead her life (spoiler alert! nowhere near what it had been before, that is exactly where it's leading her, so if you particularly liked the boarding school aspect then you, my friend, are sh#t out of luck, as they say).
Because I like Rory's personality (it is very Maureen Johnson, if you read Johnson's twitter then you know what you're getting into here. Rory even refers to her JimJams), and because I find Johnson is very capable of a fun, quick read, I still really enjoyed this book. But let's be honest, as a series that was built heavily on the Jack the Ripper bit, it really breaks away into something other. It's turned into a modern, YA, ghostbusters, and there's nothing wrong with that, but I'm guessing those of us who were in the initial read group are standing around thinking "umm, what?". Granted, I'm guessing the group is small- in publishing sales standards- as this series has had a makeover (always a sign of lagging sales) and the paperback of the second book has a "preview" of The Name of the Star. Let me just digress for a minute, can you IMAGINE, how obnoxious that would be, if you read all the way to the end of book two, only to realize it's the SECOND BOOK?! Really weird, I mean, why didn't they put the "preview" on the front of the book so if you had missed it (which clearly they think you have) you'd have the opportunity to correct that mistake before reading the second book. Apparently this is why I would never succeed in publishing.
It took most of the book to get to, but I have to say there were two twists at the end which blew my mind a little. I hadn't expected either of them, and they both shift the story line in a way that, once again, completely changed Rory's story. I am very intrigued as to where Maureen is taking this series, and am looking forward to February when I can find out.
The Madness Underneath, by Maureen Johnson
Published by Putnam Juvenile, February 16th, 2013