[discussion] The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Haven’t read it yet? Check out my review over here!

My favourite part of books is discussing them with other fans. Because I want my reviews to remain spoiler-free as they’re more likely to be read by those who haven’t read the book yet, I’m also planning to post “book discussions” for many of the books I review.  Obviously, these book discussions will contain spoilers and much flailing. Maybe some intellectual-like discussion…but mostly flailing.

The first thing you need to know is that I am not okay with the ending.

The second thing you need to know is that I think the ending is the most brilliant ending ever.

I am aware that I am a very confused person, but hear me out. From a reader/fangirl perspective, I hate the ending. Stephen/Rory was my otp from the very beginning, so to have that glorious kiss and then to have it all torn away from me was nothing short of traumatizing. What makes it even worse is that it was totally preventable. If they had just gone to the hospital… One of them must have known enough about head trauma to know that you need to take someone who has had a head injury to the hospital. You definitely don’t just let them sleep ;A; SO FRUSTRATING.

But from a writer/book connoisseur perspective, her choice to kill Stephen was brilliant. It’s impossible for the reader to see coming. In any other book, Stephen/Rory would be endgame, and Maureen Johnson completely just through that in our faces. She did a similar thing (though not to this extent) in The Last Little Blue Envelope, and I think it’s a very realistic portrayal of human life and human relationships. It’s scary that a book on ghosts is more realistic than most contemporary novels I read.

What are your thoughts on The Madness Underneath? Did you hate or love the ending? Predictions for book three?

About megtao

Student. Writer. Nerdfighter. Fights for love, justice, and awesome.
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7 Responses to [discussion] The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

  1. I basically completely agree with you… it was horrible and terrible and brilliant. I guess the only thing that makes it better is that this is a series about ghosts, and it’s hinted at that death doesn’t really mean one thing, and there are different versions of life after death… so I’m super curious how it will all play out.

  2. Tamara says:

    I saw it coming and didn’t want to see it coming and while, you know, your argument that MJ was brilliant for doing it has merit, now it’s swung the complete opposite way. Stephen/Rory is endgame in that Rory will never be able to touch him or have a relationship with him again. He won’t come back to life. The love story is over – and if it isn’t, we’ll have to sit and watch as the two of them slowly go mad/depressed because they can’t be together.

    I honestly, honestly would have preferred it if MJ didn’t have the kiss happen and they remained friends right up ’til the last book. I’m not sure I’m willing to read the rest of the series if all I’m going to see is Stephen and Rory doomed forever. They were my OTP from the moment he stepped on the page T_____________T

    (Oh my god, Meghan, I need a support group for this. I am so frigging depressed over it.)

    • megtao says:

      How could you have possibly seen this coming omg it totally came out of no where for me! I really don’t think MJ will pull a complete angst fest on us. I think we’ll get to see Rory learn how to move on, and I’m sure Stephen will help with that, somehow.

      They were my otp from the very beginning too, but it gets easier, I promise! Seriously. Arashi. Arashi will fix everything.

      • Tamara says:


        I saw it coming because they kept talking about how holding a terminus while you die would turn you into a ghost, and I knew from all the reactions something bad was going to happen.

        Actually, I found the whole thing to be oddly predictable. There wasn’t a single twist I didn’t pick. I wonder if that’s because I would have written it the same way? (Except for the Stephen bit, OH GOD, THE RAGE.)

      • Tamara says:

        Oh, and it wasn’t just that they were my OTP. I loved Stephen as a *character*. And MJ literally ended his life. I don’t know… it’d be like JKR killing Ron in the fifth book and having him linger as a ghost. It wouldn’t matter that he was still around a ghost, would it? Because his life was over and he could never be with Hermione and he was better off dead. So yeah. That’s how I feel about what happened to Stephen.

      • megtao says:

        I think it’s an important message that sometimes people die that shouldn’t. I really hope you won’t give up on the series like some of your tweets suggest!

  3. Tamara says:

    I normally don’t care so much when someone dies, but not Stephen. God, I let myself get too attached to him. It STILL hurts to think about.

    You’ll have to be my buffer. If the next story is exactly as awful as how I imagine it, please tell me not to pick it up. But if there’s a hint MJ’s going to do some (admittedly cop-out-ish) magical thing where she brings him back to life, LET ME KNOW IMMEDIATELY.


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