Title: The Madness Underneath
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
When madness stalks the streets of London, no one is safe…
There’s a creepy new terror haunting modern-day London.
Fresh from defeating a Jack the Ripper killer, Rory must put her new-found hunting skills to the test before all hell breaks loose…
But enemies are not always who you expect them to be and crazy times call for crazy solutions. A thrilling teen mystery.
Okay, first things first: America, why do you give these books such ugly-ass covers?! I mean, seriously, look at this compared to the one above. It’s a good thing Johnson is already well-known, otherwise I think these covers would deter a lot of people from reading the books because they are SO UGLY. The Brits definitely do it better, as you can see above.
Alright, now on to the real review.
I really, really liked The Name of the Star. Like a lot. I had read some of Maureen Johnson’s earlier works and didn’t like them very much, and bought The Name of the Star on a whim while I was at Waterstones in London. Plus it was signed, so I couldn’t exactly resist, could I? I was nervous it would be another dud from an author I didn’t really like in the first place, but I was blown away and absolutely loved it. It was exciting, creepy, and dramatic, and quickly became one of my favorite books of the year.
The same cannot be said for The Madness Underneath, unfortunately. There were definitely parts I liked and things I thought worked really well, but overall, I was disappointed. One of the things I liked right off the bat was that this book was even funnier than the last. I think that was a good move on Johnson’s part due to the fact that Rory spends the majority of the story being traumatized (which does make sense because SHE WAS STABBED BY A FREAKING GHOST, but still).
On the subject of Rory’s traumatitization (I made a word! Yay!), I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to think she was actually having a tough time or not. She spent most of the book trying to convince herself and other people that she was fine, but I didn’t quite know what to think about it. Johnson does give the reader a lot of info about how a traumatized person reacts to certain things, but I didn’t really feel Rory’s pain/trauma about being stabbed for most of the book, with the exception being a couple scenes with Jerome.
Oh, Jerome. Jerome, Jerome, Jerome. I still don’t think he ever needed to be part of the story. I mean, yes, everyone loves a bit of romance, but even Rory admitted a few times she didn’t know why she liked him. I think this story would have been just fine without romance, and that people still would have read it, because it’s exciting enough without the random boy action.
Speaking of random boy action, what the heck was up with the sudden romance at the end of the book (I’m being purposely vague here so I don’t spoilers)? I saw it coming, but like with Jerome, I didn’t think it was necessary to the story. Also the death. Why? Just why.
Something I did like was the addition of Jane, the therapist Rory starts seeing at Wexford. I thought she was appropriately creepy, and there was always something about her that wasn’t quite right that kept me intrigued. Bust, on the subject of Jane, I’m not sure if Rory would have agreed to do the thing she agrees to. It all seemed too sudden and I didn’t quite believe it.
I was also disappointed in the lack of ghost action in this book. Sure, there were technically more ghosts than The Name of the Star, but it wasn’t nearly as creepy or exciting. I guess it’s pretty hard to top a Ripper copy cat, but Johnson started talking about Bedlam. BEDLAM! I was so psyched when I found out that would be the focus of the ghost hunters in this book, but I don’t think Johnson played it up enough. All the ghost interactions in The Madness Underneath were just kind of “meh” to me, when they could have been really exciting, because hello, BEDLAM.
I think in general the reason I was disappointed by this story was because it focused more on Rory’s “real life” than the ghosts. I didn’t feel the same suspense I did with The Name of the Star, and was really, really hoping for some super cool and thrilling ghost action. I’m hoping there’s significantly more of that in the last book in the Shades of London trilogy, which I will certainly be purchasing and reading despite my reservations about The Madness Underneath.