The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen JohnsonApril 26, 2011; HarperTeen
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny's backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.
Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he's found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.
I have a confession to make. I read 13 Little Blue Envelopes a few years ago. I was enjoying it so much and was so curious to see what was going to happen that I flipped to the end of the story. This is almost always a bad idea and 13 Little Blue Envelopes was no exception. Knowing the ending took away the book's magic and I soon lost interest. I just skimmed the last third of the book. Still, I remembered it positively enough that I picked up The Last Little Blue Envelope. I was reading an e-copy of this book, which thankfully makes it much more difficult to skip to the end. I'm so happy I gave the sequel a chance. I loved it! Love, love, loved it!
The Last Little Blue Envelope had all the elements that you want in a book: a great setting (all over Europe), well-developed characters, consistently moving plot, romance (especially romantic tension), and more.
I began this book in a blind rage. A boy (Oliver) found the thirteenth envelope that Ginny lost at the end of 13 Little Blue Envelopes. When Ginny flew to London to reclaim it, everything becomes really complicated. I love that the book instantly evoked such emotion. I was ready to strangle Oliver. I actually had to put the book down for awhile - I was so upset. Ginny ends up going on a trip around Europe over Christmas break with three other people, one of whom is Keith - her sort-of boyfriend.
I loved the character development in this book. Ginny is still sort of a blah character, although she has much more courage and backbone after her experience the previous summer (well, maybe not that much more backbone). It's the boys who really intrigued me. Keith becomes a much more layered person, in ways both good and bad, as Ginny spends more time with him. Until now, the reader saw Keith through the same rose-colored glasses as Ginny. Now it becomes more complicated. Oliver, the boy who found the note, also starts out as a very one-dimensional character - at least in Ginny's eyes - and slowly evolves into something more.
It's hard to say much about the plot of this book, because I don't want to reveal too much. I even worry that the little I've said thus far about Ginny, Keith, and Oliver is too much. Usually, I'm not that worried about discussing the basic plot, but even the beginning of this book is very important to the overall story. I love that the story moves so quickly. The group travels around Europe once again, but it feels much different than in the last book. Different things happen in each location, so it doesn't feel like it's repeating itself. It's not just the different activities that the group is doing that's interesting. My favorite part of the book was seeing how the characters' actions increasingly revealed their flaws and strengths. Relationships strengthened and weakened. While it's a very plot-driven story, I think it's the characters that really make it fantastic.
You could argue that the end was a little...not unrealistic, per se...perhaps contrived. That's not quite right either. I can't put it into words, but some of the things the characters did at the end were a little too cleaned up and perfected. Otherwise, I don't have any problems with this book.
I highly recommend The Last Little Blue Envelope. It moves so quickly and you become to attached to the characters, that you won't be able to put it down. I want to go and re-read 13 Little Blue Envelopes now. I just adored this book.