Saturday, March 5, 2011

Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Pages: 481
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Published: October 12th, 2010
IBSN: 9780385737630

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. 

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

I'm always hesitant to read historical fiction, for some reason. If you asked me if I was a fan of the genre, I'd probably tell you no, but every time I read a book that falls into that category, I end up loving it. Revolution was no different.

I immediately felt a connection with the depressed, brusque, wry protagonist, Andi. She's grieving her younger brother whose murder she blames on herself. Her mother's crazy with grief, too, spending all day everyday cooped up inside painting portraits of her late son. And her father? He's a workaholic and hasn't been around much since he cracked the human genome. He hears about Andi's poor grades and her mother's condition, and so checks his ex-wife into a mental hospital and brings Andi with him back to Paris where he can keep an eye on her.

While checking out a guitar in her father's friend's collection, she discovers the diary of Alexandrina, written in the 18th century to a backdrop of the French Revolution. Her story runs parallel to Andi's told as Andi reads it. Andi's emotions are described vividly - I smiled through the happy scenes, and may or may not have shed tears during the sad ones.

Andi felt a real connection to Alex's story, just as I did, and it's both realistic and heart-breaking how invested in it she becomes. You can draw a lot of similarities between the two girls' stories.

All of the characters in Revolution are written so well. They're all dynamic and three-dimensional, and their personalities are all distinct and non-cliched.

Jennifer Donnelly's writing style is poetic and flows beautifully. I think she could write about anything and make in compelling (I wish she wrote my textbooks for school).

I liked the twist at the end, and how close it brought the two main characters, despite their 200 year difference. I especially liked the ambiguity surrounding it once it was over (it occurs to me that that sentence was, too, ambiguous, but hey, I'm trying not to spoil it).

I give Revolution a 5 out of 5. I recommend it to other reluctant historical fiction fans.