Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Review of Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light, artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love. Revolution spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart.

I was eager to read Revolution after loving Jennifer Donnelly’s A Northern Light, so when I saw this tour go up on Star Book Tours I jumped on board right away. Donnelly does not disappoint! I had some small issues that stopped this novel from making it into my pile of absolute favorites, but not big enough to stop me from feeling satisfied by this powerful story.

I don’t know about you guys, but I know of very few young adult novels set around the era of the French Revolution, so it was awesome to see such a unique premise here. The plot was really well executed and that it had a beautiful message behind it. The stories which Donnelly creates are intricately research, planned and tied together. I can see where some people would say that the ending feels infeasible and contrived, but as I was thinking back about the earlier details of the story it felt logical to me. I will say that at times, reading Alex’s diary got confusing in terms of the lack of punctuation, particularly where dialogue is considered. I’m more than willing to let this slide since I have no idea when the quotation mark was invented, and perhaps many diary writers are not as meticulous as I am in mine. At any rate, by the time the story was done, I wanted to go to modern day Paris, eat a baguette and fall in love.

Donnelly’s characterization is fabulous as well. I think she writes fantastic male characters. I particularly enjoyed Vijay and his mother Mrs. Gupta, because they kept me laughing throughout the story. I think Andi and her family could have easily been unrealistic, but somehow this wasn’t the case. At times Andi’s personality annoyed me, because it seemed like she got spastic really easily, or would sometimes do something that seemed like kind of an obvious social faux pas to me. I will say that while I have experienced grief, I’m not sure that I’ve ever grieved as deeply as Alex has, or known what’s it like to be on extreme drugs, which could be why I struggled with her character. However, I loved reading about her connections with music, and loved that Donnelly tied some smaller humorous moments into this aspect of the story.

This story does such a fantastic job of tying together the past and present that I would happily shove it at any reader who felt a bit wary about historical fiction. However, I think readers who are particularly interested France, have experienced grief or who have crazy parents might also enjoy this novel. Give this story a chance, or I may have to come after you with the force of Mrs. Gupta.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Star Book Tours, but I pre-ordered a copy which should be here soon.


  1. I've only read one YA French Revolution book RECENTLY which was The Red Necklace, last year maybe, I wasn't a fan.

    However, Jennifer Donnelly is beyond awesome, so I am so psyched to read Revolution and meet her on Saturday! (YaY!!)

  2. Awesome review! I haven't read anything written by Jennifer Donnelly yet, but this book is going in my wishlist. Thank you for posting! :D

  3. I loved this book and I definitely preferred reading about the modern characters although I love historical fiction and find the French Revolution to be interesting. I did like Vijay and Mrs. Gupta and it was nice to have some comic relief. I wish Vijay had been around more in the book! Nice review!



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