**This review will contain spoilers of the previous book; 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Unfortunately as this is the second of the two books it is hard to defer from this. If you have not read the previous book and do not want it to be spoilt please do not carry on.**
“How exactly was she supposed to explain what happened over the summer? One day, thirteen little blue envelopes containing strange and very specific instructions from her aunt showed up, and then Ginny – who had never been anywhere or done anything – was suddenly on a plane to London. From there she went to Paris, to Rome, to Amsterdam and Edinburgh and Copenhagen and across Germany in a train and all the way to Greece on a slow ferry. Along the way, she had met a collection of stone virgins, broken into a graveyard, chased someone down Brick Lane, been temporarily adopted by a strange family, been fully adopted by a group of Australians, made her stage debut singing Abba in Copenhagen, been drawn on by a famous artist…
… It was a bit hard to summarize in one thousand admissions-committee-ready words.”
Life has been slightly unusual for Ginny since returning from a summer adventure which had her travelling all over Europe. After receiving letters of instruction from her Aunt she found out she had an uncle, visited Paris, London and Rome, and was (kinda) skinny dipping in Greece when her backpack was finally stolen. The envelopes were in the backpack, and as she was opening them in order the final, 13th
, little blue envelope was unopened and she never found out what it said.
Ginny is trying desperately to put her summer experience into words for her college application, when she receives an email, from a guy in London. This guy bought her backpack, and ultimately has possession of the letters. She goes to London to get the letters but soon learns that Oliver, who has the envelopes, isn’t as nice as she first thought and he had conditions for her to follow to get the final letter. In her second trip she learns far more than how to buy train tickets and finding a nice hostel, she experiences more than she had ever done before and learns that not everything is handed to you on a plate.
I only read 13 Little Blue Envelopes (known as 13LBE here) a few weeks ago and I was a bit jealous the whole way through, my one flaw of it was that the story was just off with plot, it didn’t really kick in until right to the end, you were left wondering why Ginny’s Aunt Peg wanted her to jet off around the world. In The Last Little Blue Envelope though the plot was right there from the beginning, it was quicker to develop then spread out over just the right pace throughout the book. I liked that this trip was more like a mission, and had more of a purpose from the word go. It was the ending to what had happened in 13LBE and it worked.
The book seemed less rushed than the previous one too, it might have had something to do with the amount of places Ginny had to visit, I thought that everything was a bit rushed in 13LBE; she got to one place, looked at something and left. In the Last Little Blue Envelope though it felt like Ginny was “seeing” more, which is, I imagine, what her Aunt Peg would have wanted. Because of this I felt that the descriptions were more focussed in this book, especially of the Cityscapes. I felt like Ginny was properly taking it in and pondering her life as she was taking it in too. I really loved Johnson’s description of the Christmas lights in London, especially the snowmen!
I liked the characters in this book too, Ginny felt less lonely, you got to know Keith more and you were introduced to a few extra characters. The thoughts and feelings of the characters really came out too; they are very typical emotions for eighteen year olds, even though Keith was quite childish! There was huge amount of jealousy flying through the group and confusion and anger and that came out so well. I was angry at Keith throughout a lot of the book! Ellis was an awesome character too, I didn’t want to love her but I did, and you could tell that Ginny was having a hard time too, not wanting to like her but liking her anyway because of how lovely she was! Oliver’s character seemed very rehearsed to me, like he was putting on a show, but that becomes understandable, I know he wasn’t meant to be a nice character but Keith was far too harsh on him!!
I believe that Maureen Johnson wasn’t planning on writing a sequel to 13LBE; she was going to leave it as it ended but following letters from fans she decided to write The Last Little Blue Envelope, this is explained in the author’s notes of the book. I’m so glad she did because I didn’t feel like Ginny got enough closure in the first book; I loved the book as it was but it did long for a sequel! I think this book really does let Ginny get the closure she needed, especially when Ginny is in Ireland, this book could have finished at that point and I really wouldn’t have minded because I thought that scene was perfect.
As a sequel, perfect is how this book has to be described. I’m not saying that its perfect as a book as, you know, nothing can be perfect! But as the second half of the Envelopes series it lets you get more of an idea of Ginny as a character, as I think was the point. Before her trips she didn’t really have much of a character, she needed the trips to give herself something, even if it was just something to write in her college application! I didn’t get Ginny from the first book, I was jealous that she got to go on a trip like she did and she didn’t really seem to want to, but after this one she’s grown up, matured and she’s become something. I think Aunt Peg’s letters and Ginny’s experiences of the places Peg had been to meant that some of Peg’s “so what” attitude rubbed off on Ginny by the end of The Little Blue Envelope, and that made me warm to Ginny more. I’m a free spirit so I love Aunt Peg so much, she sounds like an awesome role model to me!
I would seriously recommend these two books. I think reading the first knowing there was a sequel coming helped so much so I would recommend reading the two together! I said in my review of 13LBE that it would have been better to read the book a few years ago for me, and that’s something I still think. I did relate to the characters well but I think I would have done more had I read the book at 15 or 16, maybe even earlier. So I would totally recommend this to any teenager looking for a good coming of age book that’s a good easy read with an exciting storyline.
I would like to thank Harpercollins for allowing me to review this book via Net Galley. The Last Little Blue Envelope is due out on April 26th in the UK and can be pre-ordered now from Amazon here.