The Madness Underneath
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The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2) by Maureen Johnson
4 of 5 stars
Rory heads back to her London boarding school and is faced with even more bizarre murders that appear to be connected to the Ripper murders that had taken place near campus in the first book.\
Spend the morning at a mental hospital. Blast a murderous ghost into oblivion. Come home, and the roommate is knitting some long tube. Why not?
I’m going to try to be as spoiler-free here as possible, which is going to be hard, because… well… [spoilers: Because, Stephen! And poltergeists! And cults! And Bedlam! And did I mention Stephen?!?]. I can tell you, however, that this was a one-sitting book for me, as in, after I bought it, I would not could not put it down until I had finished, and even then, I was immediately scouring Goodreads to figure out when the next book is coming (sometime in 2014). Among the things I LOVED about this book:
- Voice. One example: Rory’s awesome explanation of how ghost hunting reality shows differ from real-life ghost ‘hunting’ (using their “weird night-vision camera hats and cold-spot-o-meters“). Rory sounds just like a normal person with normal fears and irrational thoughts and quirks and — of all the YA heroines, I think she’s the one I’d get along with best. Reading it is fun, pure and simple.
- Stephen. He’s probably my favorite character in the series and I appreciate the fact that he has depth and personality.
- Relationships. It isn’t often that YA books take a look at the falling out of love/breaking up aspect of relationships, but the author managed to do this in a way that felt real and didn’t make me think any less of the characters involved. Let’s face it, folks, sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Contrary to most YA series, people’s first relationships aren’t always forever.
- All the crazy awesome creative elements that go into the story. I love how the author tied in history, mystery, suspense, ghosts, and supernatural-type powers and yet somehow made it all work, without any element seeming out of place, shoved in as an afterthought, or too far-fetched.
I had very few gripes with this novel. It had a typical cliffhanger ending that I’ve come to expect from second-books-of-trilogies, but which still irritates me. Also, some of the more minor characters I’d come to enjoy in the first book (JAZZA!) played smaller roles in this one, and some of the new characters introduced (what’s-her-name and that guy, for instance) seemed a bit lacking.
Overall: I’d highly recommend this series to YA fans looking for something with substance that’s also fun to read.