Book Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Rating: 3.5/5

As a huge fan of the Shades of London series, I was extremely excited to read another series from Maureen Johnson. Unfortunately the unrealistic nature of the story and confusing main character made this fall a little flat for me.

Book CW: Character death, attempted sexual assault, use of the R-word (in a non-derogatory manner)


Ginny is a 17 year old woman who is currently dealing with the loss of her favorite Aunt. One summer day, she receives a mysterious letter–signed by her aunt–instructing her to go to New York, pick up a package, and travel to London.

Upon going to New York, she receives more letters (totaling 13) along with a list of instructions: she must open the letters in order and complete each task given.

How far is Ginny willing to go to honor her aunt’s wishes? What secrets do these letters hold?

Review (No Spoilers)

As mentioned in my brief summary, I really wanted to read more Maureen Johnson books because of how much I adore the Shades of London.

I started reading this book under the belief that it would be a fun, easy, and quick read and I was right! The premise caught my attention and the actual story kept me reading.

What made this book fall short for me was the realization that I have no idea why the MC actually followed the letters rules/why her parents let her. She was a minor far away from home for a long period of time with absolutely no communication to the US. How were her parents not constantly worried?

On top of that, there were many instances in the story where the MC just went along with anything someone told her to do. I won’t go into much details but in one chapter, a stranger tells her to take off her shirt and she just does it, no questions asked. These types of things added up and I found myself annoyed and confused. I have a feeling she was written this way in order to push the plot forward which strikes me as slightly lazy writing.

Other than those problems, I did have fun reading this book. I especially enjoyed visiting different countries and reading about how the different cultures come across to the American MC. The ending was predictable but still left me with some lingering questions. There is a sequel (that I plan on reading) so I hope it can provide me with some answers.

8 thoughts on “Book Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

    • Jenny's Reviews August 24, 2019 / 7:16 pm



  1. Jessica at Booked J August 25, 2019 / 10:17 am

    Oof, it’s been a long time since I read this one but I remember feeling pretty much everything you did about it. It was light and entertaining but a lot of it just… eh. I was super disappointed!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenny's Reviews August 25, 2019 / 10:20 am

      Me too! I just finished the second book and I liked it a lot more than this one though I’ve heard some people feel the opposite. I’m going to try to schedule a review for that book to post around next Saturday!


  2. nen & jen August 25, 2019 / 10:36 pm

    I remember reading this and feeling the same way too. I loved the title though – it’s so catchy! 🙂 Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Devour Books with Dana August 27, 2019 / 8:58 am

    Oh my gosh. I literally just bought this over the weekend and I can’t wait to read it!


    • Jenny's Reviews August 27, 2019 / 10:38 am

      Hope you like it! I personally preferred the second book


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