Thursday, October 24, 2013

Book Review: The Madness Underneath

First...I am sorry Mama Bitchstress disappeared for a bit. There was Stuff and Things in August and September, rather serious stuff I can't talk about, but Melissa knows. Rest assured, I felt terrible about neglecting my Bitchstressy Duties, and here I am again.

Without further adieu...




 The Madness Underneath

By Maureen Johnson

Format: eBook, 304 pgs

Genre: YA paranormal

Series: Shades of London #2

Recommendation: %*$@ yes. The ending killed me ded. Please read so you can flail with me.

Synopsis: 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 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. 

First Sentence:  Charlie Strong liked his customers—you don’t run a pub for twenty-one years if you don’t like your customers—but there was something about the quiet in the morning that pleased him to no end.


My Thoughts and Summary: This will be spoiler-free for The Madness Underneath, with just a few basic spoilers for The Name of the Star—all stuff you’d gather just from reading the blurb.

The main plot of The Name of the Star concluded in the last book, however there were many threads still left open to explore in this one. We begin with Rory living in the country, away from Wexford after...The Big Stuff That Happened at the end of the first book. (Was that vague enough for you? Oh, whatever, just read the synopsis above and you’ll know what I’m talking about.)

But Rory is different now, in more ways than one. And she can still see spirits as she did in the last book. Her life and friends are back in London, and that’s where she’s determined to return to.

The Madness Underneath does a fantastic job of building on what came before, picking up threads from the previous book and weaving into this one. You’ll recall from my review of the previous book, I did see plot twists coming but greatly enjoyed the ride. This one is similar in that regard: even as I knew what was happening to Rory (ugh, I hate being vague), it was handled masterfully by Johnson, maintaining suspense and tension, and keeping Rory in the dark believably even as the reader knows what’s going on. This is no easy feat in a book that’s written in first person.

Once again, despite the trauma Rory has suffered and the gravity of the situations she’s in, her humor is ever present:

 (Also, for the record, if someone is called a Romantic, it should mean some sexy times, I think. Instead, what it really means is people in puffy shirts who probably had a lot of real-life sexy times, but produced almost exclusively pictures of hillsides or people in dramatic poses, like pretending to be Ophelia dead in a swamp. I definitely call shenanigans on this.)
Or:
My first class was further maths. Further maths had gone further into some incomprehensible zone of mathyness.

This is another book that I think is great to hand young female readers for the reasons I stated last time: boyfriends are not the end-all be-all of everything, friendships between girls are typically positive and non-competitive, and I think it manages to present a great example without being unrealistic in these areas.  (It also makes me sad that I have to highlight these things as unusual but that’s A Rant for Another Day.)

Now...we have to talk about the ending.

I will not give away the ending but Oh. My. Gods. I knew what was happening, I picked up on everything, and I was still frantically hoping it wasn’t true and I was just being paranoid. But then it happened. To my favourite character. And I screamed aloud (not an easy feat with me, again, so I tip my hat to Johnson). Because the book ended there and oh my god.

I’m sorry I have to be so vague. What you need to know is that the main plot is not wrapped up as it did in the first book, and The Madness Underneath feels much more like the first part of a larger story. I know that bothers some readers but I absolutely urge you to pick it up anyway. Y’all need to read these two books and then freak out with me. I literally flailed and I am very unhappy about the wait for the next book.

But you can be damn sure I’ll be there to read it on release day.

Bitchstress Bechdel Bonus: Does it pass the Bechdel Test? Yep!


Disclaimer: I purchased and read this book for my own enjoyment. 

7 comments:

  1. The library do have book 1....cool

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  2. it sounds really great, I'm glad you enjoyed it and I hope book 2 is as good!

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  3. Haha! Nice review!! I loved The Name of the Star! Bought this one early--preorder so it took forever to arrive. But then I was reading reviews and EVERYONE mentions this ending. This ending that kills you!! I have had wayyy too many endings like that this year and have found myself not wanting to torment myself again since I can help it.

    A few reviews have mentioned this one being a bit slower paced, so I have pushed it back in the ol' TBR mountain, but as 2013 is winding down, I am getting more anxious to read it, but here we go again with an ending that kills! And I seriously read one just a few weeks ago, that killed me. Hi--I'm back from the dead! ;)

    But fabulous review! I am very much looking forward to reading this one and then book 3 right away!

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    1. I am not normally one to rant and flip out about endings but this one really killed me. As a writer, I had a hell of a lot of respect for it. As a reader, I was all "WAAAHHH!" But I consider any extreme reaction to be a good one.

      I also went into it not knowing people were flipping out to a great degree about the end--I follow Johnson on Twitter so I saw some comments she RTed but otherwise it hit me sideways. Considering you know others have warned about it, you might not find it AS bad since you're prepared. (You might even be all, "Ugh, that's it?") Expectations can play a huge role.

      The other nice thing was that, though it fit with TNotS, it didn't feel like a repeat/rehash of that book, which was nice--TMU is a great expansion of the universe and a logical next step.

      I just wish The Shadow Cabinet was out already....

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  4. I have a feeling it is one of those endings I totally rail against. :P Would have to wait for the next book out before I read this one. At least the rest of the book does sound fab.

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    1. It's shaping up to be a really fun series. It's light without being silly, with an appropriate amount of gravitas and dark around the edges. If you're not a fan of cliffhanger-ish things, I'd wait for the third before diving into this one in order to read back to back. The Name of the Star, though, was appropriately standalone and a safe place to start if you haven't.

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  5. See the torment I get on my own blog!?! LOL! Oh this series sounds amazing. I will have to get it one day when I start buying again. :) Thank you Skyla!

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