Time for another double book review! Although to be honest this is going to be less of a review, and more of a rave/recommendations (which is kind of how most of my reviews have been going these days). One of the first books I reviewed for the blog was The Name of the Star, by Maureen Johnson. I liked it a lot, but I still found a few things to criticize about the book. I don’t know if these books are more my style, or if now that I’m writing full-time I don’t feel like criticizing books anymore, or if now that I’ve read much more YA fiction I understand what a gem Maureen Johnson is to the genre … but I can’t really think of a single bad thing to say about her books, Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes and The Last Little Blue Envelope.
Both of these books are contemporary teen fiction at its best. Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, introduces readers to Ginny, whose gotten to the summer before her senior year without doing anything too wild or crazy when a life changing letter comes in the mail: the first blue envelope. It starts her on a crazy adventure through Europe, providing her with the money she needs and prompts that take her to the canals of Amsterdam, skinny dipping in Greece, to a dog covered café in Paris, and many more places of interest.
The books contain more than just a unique concept. For starters, Ginny is just so great. Even thought it would probably be inappropriate now that I’m only two days away from being 26, I have a serious friendship crush on her. She’s smart, clever, and independent. She’s a good friend. She appreciates art. She’s honest with the reader about her feelings, even embarrassing ones or ones that make her look bad. I hope I can write a character like her someday.
I also like that the books aren’t just romance focused. They contain so much of the culture and magnificence of the great European cities, some of which I’ve visited but many of which I haven’t. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of smooches, sweaty palms, and cute boys, but the book is more concerned with self-discovery, growing up, art, and family.
I enjoyed them both so much that I went to the library yesterday and checked out all the other books by Maureen Johnson on the shelf. I’ll let you know what I think of them.
Also, I’d love to hear from other writers/bloggers (or readers!) about the review/recommendation question. Which to you prefer and has anyone else found a reluctance to criticize or be negative once they’ve been blogging for a while? Maybe I’m just on a streak of picking books I really like. Who knows?
4 thoughts on “The Little Blue Envelope series, by Maureen Johnson: Snail Mail at its Best”
Can’t wait to read these – I will have to add them to my 2BR – They sound so different from The Name of the Start.
Very different. There is still the European setting, but the envelope books don’t have any paranormal elements.
I think these are simply books that are well written and don’t warrant criticism. Perhaps too, modern writers of YA are finally beginning to capture the modern girl. Thank heaven!
Thanks for your input. I definitely think Ginny is one of the more complex and realistic portraits of a modern girl that I’ve read.