Tuesday 12 October 2010

Book Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly.

Product details:
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Hardcover, 496 pages.
Release date: October 13th 2010.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Ages: 14+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

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’s Revolution is a book that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it. This one has something for everyone - characters with depth, an intriguing plot and some sublime writing. The story will captivate you and keep you reading late into the night. This is geared towards the Young Adult market, but I honestly think it will appeal to anyone, of any age. Personally, I had been looking forward to this book for a long time. Historical fiction that’s set in Paris, particularly during the French Revolution is always something that’s going to interest me.

But, I’m jumping ahead. Revolution actually starts off in present day Brooklyn. Andi Alpers is smart, streetwise, talented and privileged. She attends St. Anselm’s, a prestigious private school where she has every opportunity available to her. But she doesn’t care. She’s flunking out. Since her brother Truman’s death she’s been racked with guilt and deeply depressed. Her family has fallen apart. Her dad has a whole new life, and a whole new pregnant girlfriend, while her mother is having a breakdown. Things are pretty bleak in Andi’s world and I’m not sure if everyone will warm to her, but I did. Her grief is real and raw and honest.. The world that she lives in is completely alien to me, but I connected with her right from the start of the book. Andi and her friends are introduced to us as spoiled rich kids living with wild abandon. They party hard, and indulge in everything to excess. While their intentions are not evil, it’s true to say that they are selfish, thinking only of themselves and not concerned with those around them. One might say that it’s behaviour reminiscent of the French Royals in the Eighteenth Century and it's safe to say that such behaviour always ends badly for those involved.

The historical element of this novel is invoked when a reluctant Andi accompanies her father, a world renowned geneticist to Paris on a work trip. He’s there to try and solve the mystery of the Lost Dauphin, Louis-Charles, while Andi is there to work on her thesis. Here, Andi finds a lost journal, that of a girl called Alex who lived during the French Revolution. Alex’s journal offers a multitude of insights into life during the French Revolution and more importantly into the life of the Dauphin. Andi is captivated by Alex’s story and by the similarities between Louis-Charles and her brother, Truman, who died at the same age. The merging of past and present throughout the book is flawless and beautifully composed. Paris is one of my favourite cities, and while reading this I could imagine I was there. Even better, Jennifer Donnelly does a great job of recreating the Paris of the French Revolution, such is the strength of her writing and the meticulous research throughout this book.

There were  many things that I loved about Revolution. Andi is so damaged and she needs to be healed. The use of music in this book for that purpose is pretty special. Andi is a gifted musician and her life in this book is wonderfully soundtracked. I always feel like I get to know characters better if I can know the music they listen to. There’s also a love interest here. Virgil is there for Andi when she needs him most. He restores her faith in humankind, and their bond really rings true.

This is a book to curl up with when you have the whole night ahead to get totally lost in Jennifer Donnelly’s wonderful words. Highly recommended.


  1. Great review! Revolution looks like such a good book and now I want to read it even more!

  2. Thanks for the review! Jennifer Donnelly's other books were really good too. Revolution sounds great too.

  3. Ooh, this sounds wonderful. Great review!
    From the Shadows

  4. Wow! That sounds fabulous. Thanks for the review. I can't wait to read it.
    Alison Can Read

  5. oooh, sounds awesome! i have this one on my shelf waiting to be read :) Thanks for the great review!

  6. This already on my TBR. Great review!

  7. I'm so glad you liked it. I can't wait to read this one. It was just sent to my Nook so I will have to start this one ASAP! I'm glad it wasn't a disappointment as I love historical fiction. Great review!

  8. Great review! I really loved this book. I'm going to link to this from my review.

  9. This sounds like something I'd like. So much I wanna read, so little time!

  10. Oh, I'm so glad this book lived up to your expectations. Your review actually made me feel as if I was in that world for a while. And now I really can't wait to read it. Fantastic review. But then again, when are your reviews not fabulous?

  11. Great review hun! You captured my thoughts on it perfectly. This really was a great read huh? ;)

  12. I couldn't really get into Tea Rose so I had kind of written off Jennifer Donnelly, but your review has me reconsidering Revolution!

  13. Great review! This is a very different book to Donnelly's Rose series. More literary and edgier. I saw a quote from her in which she says that she writes YA fiction to introduce young people to the big issues of adulthood and she writes adult fiction to provide grownups an opportunity to escape from them!
    But back to Revolution: I was blown away by all the little subtleties that don't always reveal themselves on the first read. "Max R. Peters" -- the madman in Brooklyn -- is too similar to Maximillian Robespierre to not be intentional, so what do we read into that? That Andi's spoiled classmates are the equivalent of the pre-revolution French aristocracy? Brooklyn is the equivalent of Revolutionary Paris?
    Or the anagram: Diandra Xenia Alpers = Alexandrine Paradis. There are obviously lots of similarities between Andi and Alex, but are they really the same character in a story that repeats itself, that transcends time? Are they interchangeable (which also explains the time slippiness in the book)? I think so!!
    This is one of those great books that gets more interesting and complex the closer you study it ...

  14. ^ I love this comment. It's making me want to re-read the book already! I had noticed the similarities between Andi's friends and the French aristocracy, and even the connection between Max R. Peters and Robespierre, but the name anagram completely passed me by! That's a brilliant observation. It does make me rethink the story, although I can't go into it here because of spoilers.

    I love your observations though! I think after your comment, everyone will want to read this one! :)

  15. I really enjoyed your review. I have been looking forward to this one too after you featured it on your blog a while back. Now I'm really excited! historical fiction is my favorite genre and I like this twist in this book.

  16. My current read, enjoying it so far. :)

  17. Outermostphotographic3 May 2012 at 21:18

    The word revolution can be used so many different ways with so many different interpretations. I read a book called A Reality Revolution which has a completely alternate view than this books use of the word.

  18. andrea123redpink16 October 2013 at 14:20

    This book was so amazing when I read it, that it was hard to pay attention in class because all I wanted to do was read it until I got to finish. When I did finish it I was so sad cause I wanted it to last long and hear more about what happens.


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