Earlier this year, I read and enjoyed Maureen Johnson’s Suite Scarlett. Although I found the protagonist to be a bit dull, the rest of the book made up for it. Upon reading 13 Little Blue Envelopes, I found myself in a similar situation. The plot was fun, but Ginny left something to be desired as a heroine, and it seemed like a much bigger problem this time around. Perhaps it was because Scarlett at least has hobbies and dreams. Ginny, on the other hand, feels like a blank slate. We learn little about her backstory beyond the fact that she has a best friend and some negative experiences in her love life. We never learn why she, a teenager, was allowed by her parents make a solo trip across Europe with no contact with the outside world. More troubling, we don’t know why she would make that type of decision, or really the reasoning behind much of her actions. We learn little about the things she cares about, and know nothing of her hopes and dreams. Ginny as a character feels completely empty. While reading her dialogue, my brain automatically heard her voice as a dull monotone.
At the same time, there are plenty of enjoyable aspects to 13 Little Blue Envelopes. It was fun to get to mentally visit the various places that Ginny travels to. I enjoyed the fact that Ginny’s adventures were not speed bump free. Other book might take position that the envelopes were like fate, and as long as Ginny mindlessly followed them, that things would be okay. This is not the case with 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Aunt Peg, for all of her charms, is a little flaky and not all of her instructions pan out. I didn’t find 13 Little Blue Envelopes to be poorly written at all. Johnson certainly has a unique way of looking at the world which really enhances the story.
I know that most readers will disagree with me when it comes to this book. 13 Little Blue Envelopes is not only a well received Maureen Johnson novel, but probably her most popular title. Still I can’t deny that the novel’s empty heroine really spoiled what could have been a rather nice read for me. As a result, I wouldn’t recommend this novel to other readers.
Rating: Two and a half stars
Length: 319 pages
Other books I've read by this author: Sutie Scarlett
Next I will be reviewing For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund and Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
xposted to temporaryworlds, bookish and goodreads