Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Revolution (Jennifer Donnelly, 2010)

The Heroine: Andi Alpers, a high school senior still reeling from the death of her younger brother Truman two years previously, caused by an accident that Andi blames herself for. Barely hanging on with the help of medication and her passion for music, Andi's world is turned upside down again where her absentee father returns, sending her grieving mother to rehab and taking Andi away for a vacation in Paris, France. While Andi thinks of her trip to Paris as being a prisoner under her father's watch, things brighten up when she meets a mysterious musician, Virgil, and finds a hidden diary written by a young girl, Alexandrine Paradis, during the French Revolution. By reading Alex's story, Andi is able to come to turns with the loss of her brother, the depth of her depression and may even find love with Virgil.

The Highs: The protagonist, Andi Alpers, is a realistic and interesting character that made this story a great read. Rebellious, witty and sharp, Andi sees the world through the dark glass of her depression and narrates with a unique voice that rings true of a twenty-first century teenager from Brooklyn. Characterized down to the skull rings she wears on her fingers, Andi is a marvellous creation that is a fascinating, if somewhat gloomy, narrator.

The relationship between Andi and the French musician Virgil is one of the highlights of this novel. Virgil, a cab driver from the projects that moonlights as a rap artist, is sweet, charming and truly cares for Andi. Scenes between the two of them were fraught with sexual tension and adorable moments and I was cheering them on until the end!

One thing I loved about Revolution was the historical aspect involving the French Revolution. Through Alex's diary entries that follow the course of the revolution from her unique spot as caretaker to the young son of Marie Antoinette, the French Revolution becomes easy to understand for readers. While I have read many books on the subject, both fiction and non fiction, I enjoyed the simplified version in this novel very much.

Another high point: this book includes an epilogue! I simply love to find out how the characters fared once the story is over.

The Lows: I thought Andi was extremely hard on her father, Lewis, a Nobel-winning scientist responsible for the decoding of the human genome. Though busy and often absent, Lewis obviously cares for his daughter and is trying his best to sort out the ruins of his family in the wake of his son's death. Andi is very ungenerous and unkind to her father, completely ignoring the fact that he too is grieving for Truman and that his work is responsible for providing her with a private school education and all the opportunities she could imagine. I felt truly sorry for Lewis.

I also absolutely hated the long, confusing and just plain odd dream sequence near the end of the book. Andi is suddenly transported to eighteenth-century France, where she meets the composer Amade Malherbeau and somehow becomes Alexandrine. I still do not understand the purpose of this section of the book, nor why it had to be so long. I also don't understand whether this was a dream or she actually went back in time. As well, I found the writing in this section rushed and lacking in detail. Instead of saying, "Everything looked different" over and over again, I would have preferred for the author to tell me how it was different with descriptions.

The story also never explained how Truman's key got all the way from France to Brooklyn, NY.

Final Thoughts: An edgy, unexpected read for anyone with an interest in the French Revolution, one of history's most exciting time periods.

Rating: Revolution earns seven guitar strings out of ten. 

Buy 'Revolution' on the Book Depository here
Connect with author Jennifer Donnelly here
Photo from here

Have you read this book? Let me know what you thought by leaving a comment! 


  1. I like that cover. Have never seen that one before. I so want to get my hands on this book, but haven't yet. Ugh! Great review :)

  2. Thanks! I'm glad you like my review. It's a great book!


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