Book Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes (YA)

13 Little Blue Envelopes (13 Little Blue Envelopes #1) by Maureen Johnson

Goodreads Summary:
Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.

In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.

The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.

Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.

Ages 12+

My Review:
I really wanted to like this book. It’s like The Life List for teens. The premise was good, but the reality of it was too unbelievable. Ginny is sent on a scavenger hunt across Europe by her recently deceased aunt. She’s only 17, but somehow she convinces her parents to let her take this trip without a phone or any money.

The story starts off well enough. She goes to London and stays with her aunt’s friend, Richard. She meets an adorable boy, Keith, who finds her crazy behavior endearing. The first half of the book was sweet and funny. But then things get weird. The later destinations seem too random and too rushed. She spends only a day or two in each location and picks up fellow travelers along the way.

I liked the characters. Ginny was super shy and painfully awkward in the beginning. The high school version of me could relate to her very well. Keith was spontaneous and artistic. Richard was very fatherly. Even Aunt Peg, whose motives I didn’t agree with, was true to herself. There was a lot of potential here.

But the execution just wasn’t as good as I would have liked. The ending was frustrating. The whole thing felt a little elementary. I should have noticed the “ages 12+” in the description before reading this book. It’s definitely a YA book meant for younger readers.

Audiobook Note: I listened to this book, read by Emily Durante. That may have impacted my opinion of the book. She read it an almost condescending tone: like you would read a book to a 3 year old.

My Rating: 3 Stars
Understand my ratings.

You may also like


    1. I picked audio because my friend Sarah and I listened to it while driving to Minneapolis for NerdCon. We saw Maureen Johnson there and really liked her, so I need to try another one of her books.

  1. I read this recently and felt similarly. When she hooks up with that random family for a bit it felt forced and unlikely. I also read Key to the Golden Thunderbird and Suite Scarlet and I liked those better. Although, MJ writes terrible younger sisters that you want to punch really well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge