The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

The Last Little Blue Envelope Maureen Johnson from The Figment ReviewThe Last Little Blue Envelope will be available on April 26.

by Kat Alexander

Warning: Possible minor spoilers for 13 Little Blue Envelopes.

After spending her summer on an incredible tour of Europe following notes left by her aunt, Ginny’s been feeling a little mundane back at home. To make matters worse, Keith, her “kind of something” in his own words after the last trip, stopped talking to her about a month back, and college applications are due soon. Ginny’s got nearly everything done, except for the essay: Write about a life experience that changed you. What was it, and what did you learn?

How is Ginny supposed to pack this summer into 1,000 words? How is she even supposed to begin?

She’s on the last day before her self-prescribed deadline when she gets the email. Someone has found the last little blue envelope. The one that got stolen in Greece. Somebody actually found it, and they’ll actually give it to her! She just has to go up to London to retrieve it.

And away she goes, just to find there’s a catch involved. Soon she’s off on another adventure–a quest to find Aunt Peggy’s last piece of art, pieces of which are hidden all over Europe.

Take one scoop of adventure, a cup of tea, a smidgen of romance, and a healthy heap of storytelling talent. Mix well, spread over the front and back of approximately two hundred bits of paper, and voilà–you ought to have something that resembles The Last Little Blue Envelope. (Or perhaps a rather sticky mess. Hopefully a book, though.)

It’s taken me a while to get around to reviewing this one. Not because I didn’t like it, or because reviewing it feels a bit like The End and letting go (more than a little, anyway), but mostly because it’s been difficult for me to formulate an unbiased opinion on it.

Unbiased?, you say, Um, what is a biased review? It’s not like anybody’s paying you to review the book well. They aren’t paying you, right? No, there is nobody who would be paying me to write a good or bad review.

The bias, therefore, would come from having waited for this book, waited to hold it in my hands (or on my computer), read it, and love it.

Now, aside from the physical copy bit, that’s exactly what happened. I waited and waited and waited, watched Maureen Johnson’s tweets as she nervously fed the drafts sandwiches to calm them down, and waited some more. A good while later, I read the book, ignoring anything else I had to do. Then I stood outside in the rain and thought for a while. Rinse and repeat for the couple weeks it’s been since I read it. Now, I think I can finally talk without sounding like a rabid fangirl.

I’ll give it to you frankly; I didn’t like it as much as 13 Little Blue Envelopes. There are more people around, thus making it less about Ginny and her journey and the people she meets and more about The Group. There being a constant Group gives the story a different dynamic, and we don’t learn as much about Ginny from her interactions with The Group as we do the rest of the world. At the same time, it’s not like I didn’t like The Group. I loved reading about each and every one of them, each deliciously flawed and unique character, and I absolutely adore all of them, for one reason or another.

But as much as I love all of them, there is something about Ginny being alone that resonated well with me from the first novel, an element that wasn’t nearly as present in this one.

There are some other things that come from being with The Group–like the romance element. Yes, there is one. It’s not like Ginny’s meeting everyone for the first time ’round anymore; she either knows these people, or she gets to know them. On the bright side, to me anyway, you can see it coming. It’s not hidden, and it’s clearly not the main point in the story. The romance element isn’t overblown into something unrealistic or distracting–it was present, and made up some of Ginny’s worries, but it quickly took backseat when there were more important things around.

Just as it would in real life.

I think that may be one of the strongest points of this novel, really. There is an adventure of a lifetime, and yet, it’s real. Real enough to read straight through it without pause, living through the book with Ginny and Keith and everyone. Real enough to wish just a bit that it might happen to you. Or maybe that’s just me. Four stars, and a dozen re-reads to come.

Kat Alexander is a Figment Reviewer who (clearly) loves to read and comment. She’s active on a number of sites including NaNo, Fiction Press, and FanFiction under aneko24.

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