26 December 2010

Review: 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.
Revolution is the story of a teen girl called Andi, who has suffered the devastating loss of her younger brother Truman in a tragic accident, for which she blames herself. She struggles with her feelings of guilt and grief, and thus does some stupid things to cope with the pain. However, before she completely falls apart, her father takes her with him to Paris on his trip on which he is to investigate if the heart in the jar really belonged to Louis XVII, the young king who was locked up in a tower during the Revolution since some people speculate that Louis was somehow saved.

So our Andi finds herself in Paris and is determined to meet her father's conditions in order for him to let her go home asap. While staying at her dad friend's, she comes across a diary from the Frech Revolution days that was kept by Alexandrine, a young girl who went from a street performer to living in the castle and entertaining Louis XVII. When his parents were killed and he was imprisoned, she went around the town setting off fireworks because she knew he was watching and that they made him smile. She was on a mission to save Louis from the tower and Andi goes completely engrossed in her diary entries, hoping that she was successful ... But was she?
Andi hates staying in Paris at first, but she soon makes some friends and does some interesting research for her thesis on Amadé Malherbeau, a musician from the late 18th century. Just when she's almost ready to go back home, something interesting happens to her during a late-night visit to the catacombs ...

But enough about the plot, before I give too much away - let's focus on writing next. I thought the novel was beautifully written. I liked Andi's snarky narrative voice and I felt that both 18th century and modern day Paris were so vividly described that I easily being there - I just got sucked into the world described in the novel. The author must have done an awful lot of reserach on the French Revolution - I mean, I'm no expert on the subject, but it all seemed very believable to me. The author sure didn't sugarcoat anything so certain scenes might not be for the squeamish - let's just say that Paris was quite nasty and smelly back then and that the gruesome guillotine scenes made me a bit queasy, heh. But overall reading about the French Revolution was a rather fascinating experience.

As I said, the novel is written from Andi's perspective and I really enjoyed her narrative. As I read what happened on that fateful day, my heart just broke for her and for her poor little brother. Her grief was so strong that her pain was tangible so I wasn't at all surprised by all the stupid things she did to cope because what happened on that day was really too horrible to bear. Apart from prescription pills etc., Andi also copes with the help of music, which is very important to her and she feels it deeply. Music is another important topic that's really well researched.

All in all, I was rather impressed by this book, although not completely blown away. The historical part was far more interesting than I expected, even though this is not my favourite period to read about. The time travelling bit will require you to suspend your disbelief, but other than that, this novel was very realistic and well written, plus the cover's fantastic! Ms Donnelly is certainly a superb author and I look forward to reading her other three novels (Tea Rose, Winter Rose & Northern Light), all of which I already own, I just have to get around to finally reading them and they all sound great!

overall rating:
plot: 4/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 5/5


Luisa at Chicklish said...

Wow, wonderful review. I've been thinking of buying myself this one. I'm thinking about it even more now! :)

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Wonderful review! Revolution is on my wishlist and I have yet to read two other Donnelly books. It seems she is a great author, so that shouldn't be a problem. I actually love this time period, so Revolution seems perfect for me. Your review awoke my appetite for the book.

Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews) said...

I adored this book! So many little hidden meanings and secrets throughout the story that I just loved!

Lisa_sps said...

I can't wait to read this book! All the reviews that I read are positive! And the idea of a girl discovering the diary of another girl that lived 3 centuries before is great!

Stephanie :) (Books Are A Girl's Best Friend) said...

I loved Revolution! It was a really unique reading experience and made me want to rea more books set in the French Revolution. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

Athena Reader said...

I'm currently reading Revolution, and am amazed so far! When I saw it, I wasn't sure that I would like it, but it's really good! I totally agree with your review. For me, it's rating 4.5/5.

Lauren said...

Great review! I've been curious about this one so I'm happy to hear that you were impressed by it. I must find a copy now. :)

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