Miranda @ Bibliodaze

I'm an awesome 24 y/o reader and writer of YA fantasy/historical fantasy. I mainly write about awesome ladies and the people who love them. I work at a library and I'm a contributing reviewer to Bibliodaze.

The Last Little Blue Envelope

The Last Little Blue Envelope - Maureen Johnson Disclaimer: ARC received from NetGalley.*THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR THE BOOK IN THIS REVIEW*Trigger Warning: There’s a surprising amount of bullying in this book by one of the main characters to another main character. It ranges from verbal to physical, including acts done with a car. I will be talking about it in my review, as well. When I first heard that there was going to be a sequel to Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, I was cautiously excited and optimistic. Maureen Johnson is a favorite author of mine, and she’s rarely ever disappointed me. I was happy to read about the last blue envelope, Aunt Peg’s last letter to Ginny, and see the loose ends tied up. I’ll start with the good first. Johnson’s descriptions, as always, are beautifully written. She has a strong talent for getting the reader to simply imagine everything the characters are seeing, and it feels real, like you’re right there beside them. I especially loved the little touches she put into domestic settings, how it brought everything to life and made it seem like it really existed, like these were real people. Often times I would simply reread a paragraph of description just because it was so well done and I loved it so much. The pacing is also well done; there was never really a dull moment in the book, or a point where I felt, “Can we get on with this, please? It’s dragging, let’s go already!” Everything moved at a good, reasonable, realistic pace. It’s also much easier to believe that Ginny’s parents let her go to England in this book than it was in the first. In the first, she didn’t really know who she was staying with, or where, and it seemed a little unbelievable that her parents would let her go by herself without any means of contact. Now that she has her uncle and knows people there it was much easier to swallow. The other little thing I loved were Peg’s last letter to Ginny. I did actually tear up at one point, when she began describing her hallucinations, and when the letter ended. It was a good end to a long journey, for both of them. As much as it pains me to say it, I really did not like the character development in this book. Ginny’s was well done and believable, and I loved watching her grow, but the other main characters actually kind of irritated me. My biggest problem was Keith; when Ginny mentioned that his contact was becoming less frequent and that she was going to show up at his house without telling him, it was kind of a dead giveaway about where that particular relationship was going. Sure enough, Keith has a new girlfriend, but they never actually talk about that until later in the book. Ginny just assumes they’re together from the way they act around each other, and never actually confronts Keith about it. She keeps putting it off and putting it off until it finally blows up, and it’s just not a very satisfying ending to that relationship. Another problem with Keith is that he turned into a major jerk in this book. Suddenly he’s bullying Oliver, the man who has the envelopes, and he won’t let up. Granted there is a good reason for it: Oliver blackmails Ginny, which I’ll get to next, but it really went over the top. At a certain point it stopped feeling natural and felt more like Keith was being made to look bad so Oliver could look good in comparison, which made it easier to write and develop his and Ginny’s relationship. It felt like an easy way out. And Keith really went above and beyond jerkiness: At one point he covers Oliver while he’s sleeping totally in snow, and dumps some on his bag so all his clothes are wet. This is when they’re in Belgium and it’s freezing outside, so his clothes will be not only wet but cold. There are also a few times when Keith threatens Oliver with his car. It just seemed to come out of left field, and maybe that’s what Johnson intended, but it didn’t come off naturally at all. One aspect I did really love, though, was how well Ginny and Ellis, Keith’s girlfriend, got along. They didn’t have that many scenes together in the grand scheme of things, but not once did they fight over Keith, and not once did Ginny hate her for being together with him. In fact at one point Ginny states that she sometimes liked Ellis far more than Keith. It was very satisfying to see that sort of thing done well in YA; it’s not something you see often. Usually the other woman who’s with the main character’s love interest is written as a bitch, or a slut. I liked seeing two girls in love with the same guy who were friends, and never fought over said guy. While I wish they had a little more screen time together, I enjoyed what I got and I applaud Johnson for writing them that way. The last major problem I had with this book is Oliver, the guy who has the envelopes. He bought the backpack off of the people who stole it at the end of the first book and found the letters. He contacted Ginny and said he’d give them to her if she came back to London, which she did. They meet at a cafe (incidentally, right after Ginny visited Keith and found out about Ellis) and he hands over twelve envelopes. He refuses to hand over the last one, because Aunt Peg wants Ginny to put together one last painting, with pieces she did that are spread out in various places that Ginny’s visited. Once that painting is assembled, Oliver wants to sell it off and take half of the money as a finder’s fee. He never says why he wants half of the money, and threatens to leave with the envelope if Ginny doesn’t agree. He states, point blank, he’ll leave and she’ll never see the envelope again if she doesn’t agree. Ginny, to her credit, finds it incredibly sketchy and is appropriately freaked out. But she goes along with it, because what other choice does she have? And that is my biggest problem with Oliver. He blackmailed her into doing what he wanted, and that is not a good way to start a relationship. He later becomes the new love interest, and I had trouble accepting that because of his actions when they first meet. As I said before, it really did feel like Keith was made into a jerk just so Oliver would look better by comparison, and it didn’t really work because of the blackmailing. At no point did I want Ginny to end up with him, simply because of that raw deal he made with her. It is, of course, later revealed that he had good need for the money, but Ginny explicitly says “You could have just told me that and I would have handed it over.” Still, they kiss and may at some point in the future become a couple, and it was just very hard to be happy with that outcome. It’s always better when relationships have trust in them, and when they don’t start out with one part of the couple blackmailing the other. There were times when the easy way out seemed to have been taken. Keith and Ginny, in an attempt to get the last letter back, plan to have Keith steal it from Oliver at a train station before he and Ginny leave for Paris. However, they arrive at the train station and only then begin making the actual plans. Isn’t it kind of stupid to plan out that sort of thing when your target could be anywhere in the midst of hundreds of people? Sure enough, Oliver arrived earlier than them and saw them plotting and figured it out, keeping them from getting the letter. It seemed like a kind of sloppy way to keep the letter from them and make Keith and Ellis join along in the adventure. All in all there were extremely good parts to The Last Little Blue Envelope: I enjoyed the writing, as always, and I liked Ginny and Ellis. Oliver I grew to tolerate but I never quite forgot how he came to be involved in the whole adventure, with the blackmailing and all. Keith was a major disappointment and a somewhat baffling turn of events. I did like seeing how everything tied together, and Ginny’s final decision at the end of the book. It felt natural and strong and empowering, and I really did love seeing her go through with it. I would reccomend that fans of Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes read the sequel, but with some very strong reservations. It’s a good ending to Ginny’s journey, even if at times it was a little irritating. I’m very much looking forward to Johnson’s next book, The Name of the Star, which is the first in a new series.

Currently reading

A Feast for Crows
George R.R. Martin
Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media
Susan J. Douglas
The Winter Rose
Jennifer Donnelly
Progress: 259/720 pages