Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Review - 13 Little Blue Envelopes - Maureen Johnson

13 Little Blue Envelopes (Little Blue Envelope, #1)Title: 13 Little Blue Envelopes
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publication: HarperTeen, August 23rd 2005
Pages: 319 pages, Paperback
Source: Library book
Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.
In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.
The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.
Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke-about-town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous-though utterly romantic-results. But will she ever see him again?
Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it's all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.
The reason I heard about 13 Little Blue Envelopes was because I actually saw the second one at my local book store on sale, so when I went to Goodreads, I found out that there was a first book. I read up on it, added it to my Goodreads "wish list" shelf and hoped that I would be able to get my hands on a copy soon. And I did! I went to my library and was most delighted to find this sitting upon one of the shelves, needless to say I had to fight the urge to scream as I was seriously over-excited. I got four wish list books at my library and so far (sobs) 75% of them has been a let down. 13 LBE, I enjoyed it, but I was expecting a bit more.

When I started reading this book, I was immediately introduced to Ginny and I liked that the story began with her on her way to collect the envelopes. A lot of books I've read recently, the major part of the story happens towards the end, leaving the ending rushed and not completely tied up. The author provided enough background information after the story had started, which I enjoyed as the action begun immediately and we were given little wisps of information throughout, which kept me guessing and was resolved and tied up at the end.


I must admit, when I saw it was written in third person I may have done an inward groan. When I read books written in third-person, it just doesn't work with me. I feel like I'm not connecting with the character on an emotional level. It feels like I'm just watching their lives and not experiencing the story. I felt I could connect with Ginny at parts in the story and other times it was like I was just staring at a blank stranger again. There wasn't a lot I learnt about Ginny and to be honest, I didn't actually see how she changed at the end of of the book. I felt like she had physically gone places but not mentally. 


I did like Ginny though, she had been through a lot and she was like any other teenage girl. She cried. She laughed. She got angry. She loved. She was a relatable character. She was also brave, some might put it as being utterly stupid and naive, I mean, if I got 13 little blue envelopes given to me by a mentally unstable aunt, I would probably pack it away and guiltily continue with every day life, certainly not hop on a plane to London. Ginny followed the instructions, she stuck (most of the time) to the rules and she carried on, even though she was travelling into the unknown. At parts in the story I was wondering if she wasn't 

brave but like some people might think, incredibly naive. I mean, really, who goes with an Italian boy into a house and go lives with people she doesn't know at all? There were some 
parts in the story where I was like "Seriously? You didn't see that coming? Even if it were 
the size of an elephant and bright red you'd probably not notice it. *insert eye roll*) I did like Ginny but I do think we could've gotten to know her a bit better.

Another thing I thought about when reading the book was the lack of parental mention. I'm not sure in reality, parents would let their ONLY daughter, let alone only child travel Europe by herself at the tender age of seventeen, without a phone/computer to get in contact with them. I do think that Ginny should've been able to take some electronics with her when she travelled or had a parent with her or the author should have made Ginny a bit older, at least out of school I think.


The plot was (obviously) centred around Ginny and her travelling throughout Europe and I really enjoyed that. I've ALWAYS wanted to travel around Europe and I loved that this book could help me do exactly that. I will definitely be reading more travelling books from now on! I really do wish that the author described the places a bit more though, Ginny was in each place at least two days and I do think she should've taken the advantage of being in such beautiful places by exploring a bit more. She was in Paris and I don't think she mentioned the Eiffel Tower. -.-  


All the 13 LBE fans, don't kill me for saying this, but I did find the plot quite random. I don't actually understand what the point was for some of the stops. I just didn't feel like it was all connected somehow :/ A lot of the travelling also just felt like her being on transportation and not actually accomplishing anything, most of it tied up nicely at the end though. 


The romance between Keith and Ginny wasn't presented that well. The way they met was cute but they only really spent a couple of days together all in all. They didn't really interact that well, they barely hugged/kissed but I did like that they could really speak to each other and pour out their emotions to one another, you don't get that a lot in YA and it was refreshing to see. This may be weird to mention but I also liked to see that Ginny was a virgin. In most YA books the characters have done it or do so for a first time in a book, I appreciated that the author kept 13 LBD a clean, wholesome read.


Overall, 13 Little Blue Envelopes was a charming read about a girl finding about her and her aunt and discovering her true self as well as seeing the world in a new perspective. I loved the European setting and it gave a nice feeling to the book. I was expecting a bit more from the book and was let down on a few occasions. I do feel that the romance and setting could've been improved, however, I could relate to the main character and liked reading about her adventures. I would love to see this book turned into a movie and I will definitely read more from this author.


I give it: 3/5 CUPCAKES!





8 comments:

  1. This novel sounds ok, but from the sounds of things it's probably not something to go on my to read list - have you read Carole Wilkinson's 'Sugar Sugar'? It's a similar theme, and I think the execution is superior to what you have described for 13LBE.

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  2. Yay I've been waiting for this for ages! great review. x

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  3. Great review! Sounds like a fun read! Thanks! :D

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  4. This is such a lovely review. I've been wanting to read this one for ages now because I love books that have road trips/travel as a focus. You'll have to let me know what you think of the next book in this series.

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  5. I loved this book, but I too felt that something was missing.
    I think there might be a second book, but I'm not positive!

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  6. I was kind of surprised about Ginny just going out and following the envelopes as well. I wasn't the biggest fan of the aunt for instructing her to do that but there were some good points and i loved hearing about Europe.

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  7. I have been meaning to read this since forever. I love the idea of the little blue envelopes with clues etc - I have always wanted to travel around Europe too! :) It's a pity it didn't live up to your full expectations, but I'm glad you enjoyed it enough.
    Fab review, Kyra! :) xx

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  8. I haven't heard of this book before reading your review. I am always a little annoyed when parents are not mentioned in YA books. A few hints here and there would be nice to assure readers that the children are not neglected. Great review!

    s @ Oh! Paper Pages

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