Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Contemporary Summer: Road Trip Week! Review of 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

13 Little Blue Envelopes (Little Blue Envelope #1) by Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Released: April 12th 2011 (first published August 23rd 2005)
My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

When Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she knows something exciting is going to happen. What Ginny doesn't know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one. Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are the key to finding them in this funny, romantic, heartbreaking novel. (from Goodreads)

13 Little Blue Envelopes was a fun, fast-paced read, but I did have a few problems with it (with the romance and the believability of it, mostly). However, I did enjoy it and I’m intrigued enough to want to read the sequel!

Ginny was the main character, and holder of the thirteen little blue envelopes. I quite liked Ginny and thought she was pretty interesting – to embark on this task her aunt had left her required a certain mindset; I think I would have freaked out and refused to go, but Ginny wanted to fulfil her aunt’s wishes and wasn’t too scared to do it. She trekked from country to country, hoping to discover more about herself and find out what her aunt intended for her. Even when things went wrong, she still tried as hard as he could to follow what was written in the envelopes (to be honest, I would have packed up and gone home by then, envelopes or no envelopes). I think doing this last thing for her aunt was really important to her, and while at times I felt she was a bit stupid and should have maybe just stopped listening to the envelopes, I could understand why she wanted to carry on until the end.

The envelopes, written by her Aunt Peg who had recently died, each contained a mission or task for Ginny and involved travelling the world. This was probably my first problem. Ginny was supposed to go around travelling...on her own. With no mobile or anything she could use to get in touch with her parents (or anyone!) if there was some kind of emergency. I mean, I could understand going alone if she were used to that kind of thing, but she wasn’t AT ALL. Plus, no way to contact anyone? That was just so unnecessarily dangerous. Coming from a family of fairly protective parents, I think they would have laughed in my face if I told them I wanted to go travelling alone with no phone when I was seventeen. And not to just one country – several different ones. Constantly on the move with no idea where you’d even be staying when you arrived. is what I think most parents would say to that idea. It was a bit too unrealistic to just have the parents go along with this but I think as the story wasn’t really about realism, but more about adventure and identity, I could (grudgingly) look past the unbelievable aspects of the story. Plus, I really enjoyed Ginny’s experiences in other countries so I guess it didn’t take much away from the story.

The travelling itself was great to read about and I liked seeing what happened to Ginny in each different country and how she dealt with the problems she encountered. Ginny was pretty much always on the move, so the book was at a constant fast pace. The discovery of Richard, someone from Aunt Peg’s past, was one of my favourite parts and I like how Ginny got to know him and also found out more about her aunt and the life she led before. Richard and Peg’s story was actually really interesting to read about, and I felt like I could understand Ginny more too, and why she was so determined to do this for her aunt.

The romance lacked something for me. I never really warmed up to Keith, who just seemed too irresponsible and unpredictable and...dodgy, to me, and I couldn’t work out if he actually like Ginny or not. I felt like their relationship (well, sort-of relationship thingy) didn’t really have that spark that I look for in a romance and was just weird – to be honest, Keith just rubbed me the wrong way and I would have stayed away from him – I couldn’t understand why Ginny was so interested. And I felt like Ginny trusted Keith too quickly (and too much), especially after the stuff he said – she barely knew anything about him before they went off to places together. I just didn’t really feel it, but I know there’s a sequel, so maybe I’ll change my mind!

The ending (and extract from book two included in this edition) definitely left me intrigued. I did not expect that at all (though maybe I should have) and now I am pretty curious to find out what will happen next (and where Ginny will end up this time). Considering all that happened in this book, I can’t really guess where the storyline will go, so I do want to find out the path the plot will take! And how everything will end up (because I felt this book actually ended things pretty well, so how things will end up in book two is a mystery).

Overall, 13 Little Blue Envelopes was an entertaining, quick read, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for something adventurous, or to someone perhaps about to go travelling themselves.


  1. I wasn't Keith's biggest fan, either. And I still wasn't even in the second book.

  2. Aw, I've always wanted to read this one, but I can't stand when the love story is missing that spark and connection. I'll have to try this one out someday.

  3. I've heard loads of good things about this! I reckon I could cope with the lack of realism, but Keith sounds a bit blah...and who calls their love interest Keith? I mean, really? I think I'd still give this one a go though

    Cait x

  4. I've had this one on my TBR for ages, but somehow I never seem to get around to reading it! I love the travel aspect of this one - it sounds really well done, although it's a shame that the romance is a little lacking.

  5. While I did read Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star (Which I really enjoyed!), I haven't read 13 Little Blue Envelopes! I've been hearing great things about it although sad that you feel the romance was lacking. But I've always wanted to travel around the world so I LOVE books about travelling and trips! I should really read this book since like you said, it's entertaining and a quick read!

    Awesome review, Liz! ♥ Glad you enjoyed it! :)

  6. It sounds a little like the adult book by Celia Aherne doesn't it? Dead person leaving letters to help change a person and get them to move on. I haven't read this one yet but I do own it and loved The Name of the Star, so I will get around to reading it soon.

  7. I don't even remember the romance in this one. It must not have been overly memorable. And while I enjoyed the travel aspects of this one, I hated that I saw little to no grown on Ginny's part.

  8. I love the idea behind this - Ginny travelling around the world following the letters of her dead Aunt. Although given her age, I TOTALLY understand your issues with believability. AND no mobile phone or way to contact her family? I'm with you - my mum would freak about me doing that at my age NOW, let alone when I was 13. But anway, I'm glad the adventure made up for the lack of realism and lacking romance. Curious to see how you'll like the sequel in comparison. Awesome review!


Comments are better than frosted cupcakes :)