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Beginning this book I could tell it was one of those books that I will have finished in a few hours times; it was easy to read and enjoyable. I had been meaning to buy this book for a while - being a big fan of John Green (Looking For Alaska, Paper Towns) I had heard of Maureen Johnson's name repeatedly.
From the blurb I was intrigued by the plot: the protagonist Ginny receives 13 blue envelopes and she can only open them one at a time, having to complete the tasks her aunt gives her. The first one takes her from New York all the way to London and following on from that there is Scotland, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Denmark and Greece and a number of tasks to do in each place.
Although I would say that overall I enjoyed the novel, I couldn't help but think that things were missing. Usually reading a book I become attached the characters, feeling like I have got to know them throughout their journey but with Ginny I did not feel like there was any depth to her character. Other characters such as Keith (the boy she falls for) and Richard (her aunt's friend in London) I felt were left too unexamined; I would have liked to know more about them but the story itself was too jumpy.
I wasn't sure what to make of the end of the book. Part of me felt that I just didn't "get it"; the last letter gets stolen with Ginny's bag and therefore she is not sure what it says. However when she has returned to London she realises what her aunt would have said to her in the last letter anyway. I was left unsure as to whether the last little blue envelope was about the hidden paintings and the fact that Keith was her uncle, or whether it was something deeper than that which I didn't grasp or wasn't supposed to grasp.
Nonetheless, there is a sequel coming out - The Last Little Blue Envelope in Spring this year which will hopefully provide an answer to the questions in my mind. As I will be reading the sequel I can't say that I didn't enjoy 13 Little Blue Envelopes, and I would recommend it to people who want a nice, easy to read, young adult book.
(Also posted on my Tumblr)
13 Little Blue Envelopes is a 'coming of age' novel by Maureen Johnson. I was browsing the kindle books on Amazon and noticed this one was free. I think authors occasionally make their books free for a limited time to increase interest. Initially i wasn't sure it was a book I'd enjoy and thought it sounded reminiscent of PS I love you, but from a different angle.
However I did enjoy it. It isn't a genius piece off writing, it won't win any awards, but it was a nice story that was well written.
Summay of Plot: 17 year old Ginny receives a package from her aunt who was a little 'alternative' and recently died. The package contains 13 little blue envelopes that Ginny must open and do what it says inside. This takes Ginny on a journey both physically and mentally. This journey is the subject of the book.
The plot unfolds at a nice pace and as Ginny travels the scene changes and as a reader thats quite nice as you feel like your visiting these places with her.
The story includes a love interest, but if I'm honest I found that a little irrelevant and a distraction as the attraction between the characters kind of comes out of nowhere and isn't that visible to the reader.
Characters: There are lots of characters that come in and out of the book, with three who reoccur. Obviously there is Ginny and her character develops nicely throughout the book. She is quite likeable. Then there is Richard who is a friend of Ginny's aunt. his character doesn't really go any wear and is a little flat. Keith is Ginny's love interest and to be honest i didn't like him and couldn't see the connection between him and Ginny. He just annoyed me a little.
Overall I enjoyed the book, it was an interesting read that kept my interest. That's all I wanted from it. I think the book is aimed at teen readers and I could imagine it would be well received by a younger age group.
I had been following Maureen Johnson on twitter for a while before I read her work and this was the first novel of her's that I decided to read. I found it for a penny on Amazon so couldn't really complain over the price and as it turns out I can't complain over the book either.
Ginny is a high school student who's coming to terms with the absence of her eccentric Aunt Peggy. Aunt Peg is a free spirited artist from New York City who disappeared and was never heard from, until she sent Ginny a parcel containing thirteen envelopes that each contain instructions for her to follow. Ginny can only open the envelopes in succession of each other and she must do what each of the letters say. Through her Aunt's instructions, Ginny finds herself on a plane from New York to London before going into France, Italy, Greece, Amsterdam and a host of European cities in order to find out what her aunt wanted her to learn about life.
I read this novel within two days, it's aimed at 13 years and up (because there is a little teenage situations such as drinking etc that might not be appropriate for younger audiences), it's also available primarily on Amazon as I've yet to see it in a UK bookshop. The writing is very clear and straightforward but Johnson describes all of the cities wonderfully well. She's from New York herself so she's been able to add very accurate detail about her city as well as the foreign cities. It reads almost as fictional travel guide given how much detail is involved, from everything to what's inside the Louvre to the streets of Edinburgh.
The characters are also fleshed out and very believable. You want to find out what happens to them and become drawn into their world as they accompany Ginny on this adventure.
Maureen Johnson is a New York Times best selling author, she has seven books published in total with more due out in the future. She's originally from Philadelphia but as mentions resides in New York City.
She can be found online at : www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com / twitter : www.twitter.com/maureenjohnson
Pages: 320 (very easy to get through)
Publisher: HarperCollins Childrens
Amazon Price: £0.01 - £3.99
As an avid reader I try to keep things as light-hearted as possible. Despite my appreciation for good writing, I rarely choose to trawl through a classic, finding them a little hard work when reading fiction, for me, is pure entertainment. Because of this preference, I often end up reading teen/young adult books, especially if I'm stuck for what to read next and want something easy and fun.
I suppose another reason for my young adult reading habit is, at the risk of becoming unpopular, that I am immensely anti-Twilight, having found the writing so appalling my eyes hurt. Any time I find a book of the YA genre that is written with intelligence and good style, it definitely gives me some sense of hope. So I was really hoping that this book would be witty and clever.
13 Little Blue Envelopes follows our heroine, Ginny, on an adventure around Europe care of her dead Aunt Peg. She has been left a series of (you guessed it, 13) envelopes which contain instructions and, in each one, a task which she must complete before moving on to the next.
Having read this on my Sony Reader, I didn't read the synopsis first (having been on a download-fest and forgotten what it was about) and when I discovered the plot it did feel sort of...familiar. Let's see, letters from the dead containing missions...has anyone here seen or read PS I Love You? Yeah, rings a bell, huh?
Trying to set that aside, I read the rest of the book with an open mind and found it readable and entertaining, but lacked depth when describing the characters. Despite being with Ginny throughout several countries, close-calls and tricky situations, I found myself not at all interested in what happened to her. What's more, I found myself knowing very little about her. I could not accurately describe her physically or personality-wise, having read the entire book.
The impression I got reading this was, and perhaps I am completely off the mark, that the author herself had had a similar adventure (perhaps minus the dead aunt part) and wanted to relive her experiences somewhat. However it was quite stereotypical - of course Ginny goes to Italy and rides a Vespa, etc.
Maybe I am being overly negative. This was quite a fun read, and as a traveller myself I am at least interested when the location changes around and I recognise things, or perhaps am reminded of somewhere I'd like to see. I also appreciate the fact that someone writing a young adult book has a decent handle on grammar and prose, which apparently isn't required to write bestsellers these days (can you tell how much I hate a certain series and it's popularity?!)
I appreciate the fact that this book was written for younger readers, and I do feel that the teen market. I wont be reading anything else by the same writer, as for the young adult market I prefer authors such as John Green, but not a total disaster. A fun, easy read.
13 Little Blue Envelopes is an American coming of age novel by Maureen Johnson, written in 2006. I had originally saw it in Waterstones but it was very expensive, being an American import that hadn't come out yet in the United Kingdom, so I decided to wait until I had more money and then buy it. However, I didn't end up buying it because I received it as a gift from a friend who had been on holiday to Florida. The book really appealed to me because it seemed as if it was a very original concept, and the blurb really left me wanting more.
This really gives you an essence of what the book is all about - Rule #1:You may bring only what fits in your backpack. Don't try to fake it with a purse or a carry-on bag.
Rule #2:You may not bring guidebooks, phrase books, or any kind of foreign language aid. And no journals.
Rule #3:You cannot bring extra money or credit/debit cards, traveler's checks, etc. I'll take care of that.
Rule #4:No electronic crutches. This means no laptop, no cell phone, no music, and no camera. You can't call home or communicate with people in the US by Internet or telephone. Postcards and letters are acceptable and encouraged. That's all you need to know for now. See you at 4th Noodle.
17 year old Ginny Blackstone has received a mysterious package from her Aunt Peggy, who disappeared years ago and is now dead. These rules are what she must do during her quest to complete the 13 little blue envelopes. Each envelope was written by her aunt, and they must be opened in a certain order, they all have a task or somewhere for Ginny to go. She finds herself taking a risk as the first few envelopes lead her to London, and she has never been out of America before. In London she meets her Aunt's best friend and roommate called Richard, as well as an artist called Keith. Both of these characters end up being central to the story as they help both Ginny and her quest with the little blue envelopes, as well as revealing vital bits on information that Ginny never would have known without them there. The envelopes eventually end up leading her all over Europe to places such as Greece and Denmark, she meets lots of interesting and different people and gets into lots of different situations, some funny and some not so.
The characters in this book were all very diverse, being from so many different places all over the world, although it was mainly set in Europe. Ginny is the main character of the book, and it is very much centred around her. During the course of the novel, she learns a lot about herself and really grows as a person. It is such a new experience for her, but she feels as though she must complete the 13 little blue envelopes. She meets Keith in London, he is a struggling artist who is trying to be noticed when he has his production mocking the 'man,' Starbucks: The Musical. They get along really well, and then they end up romantically involved, and they meet up again and again. Meanwhile, Ginny turns up at Richard's flat after being directed there by the envelopes and discovers things about him that she had never imagined. It turns out that her aunt lived in the same flat, and was his room mate. There are plenty of other really good supporting characters, but those three are the main characters.
As I said I had the book from America, but after looking on amazon, it is coming out in August 2009 on paperback in English, so it should be available in Borders and WHSmith soon.
I also really liked the way that the book was set out, the letter at the start of each chapter was really good and separated the chapters of the story quite well.
Overall, I loved the book because it was really was so original, I've never read anything else like it. I will be looking out for more books by the author.