Book Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Title – Author: The Madness Underneath – Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Series/Standalone: Series – Shades of London #2
Format – Source: Hardcover – Library

After almost dying at the hands of a Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory is staying with her parents in Bristol until her therapist convinces her parents to let her return to Wexford. Back in London, Rory finds out her return was arranged by London’s secret ghost police, the Shades. They need her; Rory is now the only terminus left. With more mysterious deaths happening around London, Rory and her friends have to figure out what’s going on before it’s too late.

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I really loved The Name of the Star. It convinced me that I should give ghost books a try, which is a subject I’m usually not into. It has some seriously scary moments, but it also had tons of snark, an awesome heroine, and a boarding school. That said, I had some seriously mixed up feelings about The Madness Underneath.

Rory returns to Wexford pretty quickly, which is a good thing because I love when characters are at boarding schools. Also, London is where it’s at, yo. Plus, I love Jaz. She’s a great roommate, and I love how Rory and Jaz’s relationship is pretty drama-free. I feel like I rarely see roommates in books that just get along from the start. But Jaz is barely in this book!

Things start to go downhill for me pretty quickly after Rory returns to London. The plot is just downright chaotic. First, the book seems to be about some mysterious deaths that are probably ghost-related. But in the last third of the book, the plot turns abruptly and suddenly it’s all about this crazy-ass cult. I wouldn’t even call this a twist; it’s almost like there are two books in one here.

HERE BE SPOILERS. I’M DISCUSSING THE ENDING, FOLKS, SO TURN AWAY IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED. So I was never a fan of Jerome in the first book. I mean, he’s fine, but I never felt there was a real spark. I’ve been on team Stephen since the beginning basically. Thank god Rory ends things with Jerome. Then she has this amazing kissing scene with Stephen and I was like ahassndfdjjgjkldshfaksl I love this. And then within a few chapters he fucking dies of a stupid injury. I was so fucking mad. And then Rory makes the worst possible decision ever: she turns him into a ghost. Something that Stephen would never in a million years want for himself. Caleb tries to tell her this and stop her, but she and Boo make it seem like Caleb is the irrational one here when he’s the only one who’s rational and taking Stephen’s wishes into account. This basically dooms them because 1) how can you fucking have a relationship with a ghost and 2) Rory’s a goddamn terminus and will never be able to touch him again. This is the worst ending ever. If Maureen Johnson doesn’t fix this in the next book, I’m going to have a conniption.

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The ending of The Madness Underneath, paired with the disjointed plot, basically ruined this one for me. I’ll be sticking around, though, because I have to know what happens.

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5 – flawed but redeemable – Draco Malfoy



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