Monday, March 28, 2011

Review: REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly

by Jennifer Donnelly
Hardcover, 472 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Placement in the Pile: Middle of the Stack, leaning towards Reaching New Heights

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 one of those books that could be so fabulous, but there were just some issues I had with it. I have read many reviews who loved this book, even listed it as their favorite of 2010, so I had really high expectations going into it. Maybe that was part of the problem.

REVOLUTION introduces you to Andi, a gritty troubled teenager that despite her frustrating attitude, you can't help but like. When she goes to Paris she finds a diary (how she finds it is one of the reasons I rolled my eyes reading this book) and then we switch back and forth from Andi's story and Alex's.

Here is where I think Donnelly lost me too. I like books that give us different perspectives, and I actually really like historical fiction. But I find books that switch timelines and plots almost every other chapter to be 1) usually longer than they need to be because you are telling more than one story and 2) put-downable. I'd get all invested in one character's plot and then it would switch. So I'd put the book down, even for a few weeks at a time, before I picked it up again. That of course is MY problem, not the books. There are many books out there like that. I just think that kind of book is not the best choice for me.

The last thing I had issue with in the book was the incredible coincidences. An old key that belonged to her brother was the key that opened an 18th century guitar case, that belonged to a girl with a fantastical background who knew someone that her father was researching, who was also connected to the musician that Andi was studying for school...I realize it was all part of the plot that it all worked out, but it really was sort of unbelievable.

Besides those though, I thought Donnelly's writing was good. I was drawn in to both characters, they were distinct and unique and I cared about them individually....just didn't care so much about their connection, since I thought it was forced. I loved the look into the French Revolution era, as I love historical fiction.

So all in all, this is a really really good book. I recommend it to people who love historical fiction, and who are not put off by time changes every other chapter. It really is worth reading, even though it wasn't my favorite of all time.


Amber Griffiths said...

Thanks for the review. Revolution sounds really interesting, but I'm not sure how I'd fare with the shorter than necessary chapters and constant switches.
I haven't read many historical fictions, so I'm going to give this a go :)

Books of Amber

Shari said...

I'm sorry it was disappointing. Thanks for the honest review.

Aubrey said...

I wouldn't necessarily call it disappointing either. It just wasn't what I expected/needed to read at the time. I think she is a talented author and I'd be willing to try her books again!