Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Review: The Madness Underneath

The Madness Underneath (Shades of London, book two)
By Maureen Johnson
Published 2013 by Putnam Juvenile

WARNING: There will be spoilers for book one ahead. To read my review of that title, go here.

Rory has survived her encounter with a Jack the Ripper copycat spirit, but she isn't quite the same. For starters, she now appears to have the ability to obliterate ghosts with a single touch. As Rory adjusts to her new life, a new series of murders has her breaking out her detective skills once again.

So, I only recently read book one, despite having it in my possession since before it was released, but I really enjoyed it. I was determined to read the second book in a more timely fashion, so I requested an e-galley when I saw it available and started reading as soon as I got the chance. I'll put it out there at the beginning: I didn't love this one as much as the first. Maybe it is suffering from second-book-itis, but it just didn't grip me the way the first one did. However, I still really enjoyed it, and THE ENDING. I completely love the ending. Here is what didn't work as well for me in this second book.

I feel like a little bit of Rory's spunk and verve is gone. Now, this is almost completely understandable as she almost died at the end of book one, which is bound to put a damper on pretty much anyone's high spirits. Rory also makes a few decisions that seemed too far out of character to be believable for me. Additionally, most of the other fantastic characters that Johnson created in book one are pushed to the side and neglected here in book two. This is extremely disappointing because, as I said in my review of book one, Johnson does characters extremely well.

Also, I gotta be honest - not a whole lot is happening throughout the majority of this book. This volume is a lot more introspective than the first - Rory figuring out what her life is going to be like now, and worrying that she'll never be satisfied with this new reality. Yes, there are some murders that Rory thinks she can solve, but the action is relatively quiet until the last few chapters.

I can see many readers finding fault with the last few chapters, especially the ending, but I personally loved it. It made me feel the feels, as they say, and I completely didn't expect that. The last little bit of this book definitely sets up some craziness for book three, so despite my relative disappointment in this volume, I'm eagerly awaiting book three.

Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via NetGalley.

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