Saturday, May 28, 2011

Audiobook Review: The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

From Goodreads:
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.

It's not often that I find sequels more enjoyable than the original, but in this case I'd have to say that The Last Little Blue Envelope is better than 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Maureen Johnson has evolved and improved in her writing, which mainly manifested itself in her character development, which was much richer and full of life in this second go-around. My main criticism of the first novel was that the characters didn't jump off the page enough; they didn't feel real or empathetic, and for someone who much prefers character-driven novels to plot-driven, this stifled my desire to add the book to one of my favorites. And I assumed it would become a favorite before I started reading it because of the fact that the main character was traveling across Europe. I am a sucker for "coming-of-age" stories that involve travel, so before I even started reading, I had high hopes for it.

In this second installment, however, Johnson has given Ginny more confidence in herself (though not so much that she's a different character entirely) and her actions and motivations are much more clear to the reader. In addition, the other major characters are much more vivid in your mind and feel like real people, much moreso than in the first book.

The audiobook narrator, Emily Durante, did a fantastic job and sounded just like what Ginny would in my mind, which is why I am still disappointed that both of these books were not written in first-person. I really think if they had been written AS Ginny instead of FOR Ginny, that the characters would have been much more vivid and empathetic. Both 13LBE and TLLBE felt like they needed to be narrated by the main character and not some distant, unknown person. I would have liked to get into Ginny's head more than what the distant, third-person narrator was able to accomplish.

The way the sequel ended was satisfying, if not a bit contrived, but at the same time, it ended the way I'm sure most readers assumed it would end. I guess it just depends on whether you like your predictions to come true if you consider this a good thing or a bad thing.

Overall, TLLBE was a satisfying conclusion to the gaping hole that was left from the first novel and if you're a lover of travel and/or coming-of-age stories, give both 13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Last Little Blue Envelope a try.

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson, narrated by Emily Durante
Published: April 2011 by Harper Teen and Harper Children's Audio
Pages: 304
Audiobook Length: 7 hours, 17 minutes
Genre: Realisitic Fiction
Audience: Young Adult

Thanks to HarperCollins Children's Audio for providing me with a copy of the audiobook.


  1. Wow! Loved the review! I am so glad the second book is so good. I just read the first one a couple weeks ago and loved it! I have the new one on my TBR list.
    And I don't need a surprise ending. I always say - "I like my books to end the way I want them to."

  2. Sounds like I need to give both of these a try. I'm a sucker for coming-of-age stories.