Wednesday, May 21, 2014

7 Reasons to Read Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly


Title: Revolution
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Genre: Historical fiction/Contemporary
Publication Date: October 12, 2010
From the privileged streets of modern Brooklyn to the heart of the French Revolution, Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light, artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love. Revolution spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart.

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. -Goodreads

5 Stars

"I am not afraid of beatings or blood anymore. I’m not afraid of guards or guillotines.
There is only one thing I fear now - love.
For I have seen it and I have felt it and I know that it is love, not death, that undoes us."

What the heck did I just read?

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly goes right up there with novels like I Am the Messenger, A Northern Light (also written by her), and Jellicoe Road. And trust me, I do not honor any book with as prestigious a rank as this.

I really do not know how I will find the words to describe my endless love for this brilliantly constructed novel, so I will make a list to organize my thoughts - similar to what I did with my review of Jellicoe Road.

But first, a bit about the book. The story follows Andi - a music-genius-depression-addled girl, dealing with grief brought on by the death of her younger brother, Truman. Her dad pays little attention to her, or so it seems, and her mother is on the verge of insanity - her paintings the only tether she has. Needless to say, her life kind of sucks.

(Fear not, this is not a woe-is-me, plea for sympathy kind of novel. It is much more than that.)

In the midst of all this shit, her father decides to embark on a trip to France with Andi. There, she meets a talented rapper (I promise it’s not insta-love!) and a girl named Alexandrine “The Green Man.” I will go no further so as to not spoil the novel.

Revolution pretty much has everything I love packed in a 500-page volume. And I enjoyed every damn second of it.

So, here are 7 Reasons You Should Read Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly:


Very well researched, which equals a happy Summer. When it comes to history, I am a full-fledged dork. Obviously.

This is more than a recount of the French Rev; no, it is much more personal than that. We are plopped smack in the middle of the streets of Paris alongside Alexandrine, an ambitious actress. There are multiple appearances by many influential historical figures, which I’m sure will make any history lover giddy.

Not to spoil anything, but my previous views of the Royalists and the Revolutionaries (particularly the Jacobins) have been blurred.


Nathan, Virgil, G., Lilli, Vijay - all characters I absolutely adore. Did I already say Donnelly has mastered the art of character development? This is also true for her previous YA novel, A Northern Light.

And I don’t think I’ll ever forget the protagonist, Andi, anytime soon. At first I thought she was an insufferable bitch, but within a few pages my perception of her was completely flipped. She became my best friend; I felt as if I was right next to her, experiencing her experiences and feeling her emotions, and my love for her grew by the page.

I’m a bit annoyed, though, by the mostly male cast of characters, but I’m able to let it slide.

”I don’t like hope very much. In fact, I hate it. It’s the crystal meth of emotions. It hooks you fast and kills you hard. It’s bad news. The worst. It’s sharp sticks and cherry bombs. When hope shows up, it’s only a matter of time until someone gets hurt.”
Counting how many times I full-on almost cried in Revolution would be pointless. Whether it was about Louis Charles or Truman or even music I found myself tearing up. I haven’t been this emotionally affected since, well, last year.

The writing was impeccable, typical Donnelly. I can still hear Andi’s voice in my head; the author has just captured the protagonist’s voice that well.

(Side note: This is the third book I've given 5 stars this year. Yup, it’s that good.)


If you’re more of a contemporary type of gal/guy, do not worry. Revolution5. THE MUSIC.

I’m not much of a musician, but I do thoroughly enjoy music. Virgil’s rap scenes were some of my favorite bits out of the entire novel . Sad truth: I sometimes skim and at times entirely skip poem and lyric segments in a book; this was not the case in Revolution. Furthermore, some of the most beautiful descriptions in this novel were of music and Andi’s intense love for it. Being the total noob I am, I Googled “Malherbeau,” thinking he was some obscure musician. Apparently, he’s not real. *sad face*


Again, I won’t expand on this much because I don’t want to ruin it for those who haven’t read this. But, I’ll just say that there is a ton of fireworks and sneaking and other fun stuff.


If you’re neither a contemporary nor a history buff, there is plenty of science, particularly genetics and DNA. It was quite fascinating when Andi’s dad was talking about the methods they used to uncover the mystery of Louis-Charles. The debate of Science vs. History was intriguing, and I don’t think I need to explicitly say which side I supported.

Donnelly provides an alternate view to the French Revolution - one that is both thought-provoking and downright brilliant. An intricate story that has permanently found its spot on my favorites list.

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