Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

#14 of 200
Original Language: English
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Country: United States
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 9780385737630
Page Count: 496
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.

 Jennifer Donnelly’s most recent novel, Revolution, is an emotional rollercoaster. It is angry, it is bitter, it is depressed and it is desperate. Andi begins as an obnoxious narrator. She heavily drugs herself to get through every day, and the only thing that brings her to life is her music. Music is her obsession, and unfortunately no one seems to care.
From the beginning it is clear that Donnelly has done her homework. The descriptions of the music, the historical links between modern and Revolutionary Paris are fascinating and hypnotic. Through Andi we experience the underground of Paris, the lesser travelled paths than the traditional tourist sites. Through Alexandrine we see the stark contrasts between the poverty stricken streets of Paris and the lush luxuries of the Palias-Royal.

To begin with, Andi’s depression is a cancer. It eats away at her and everything she thinks or feels. Every reaction is tempered, somehow, by her brother’s death. But slowly, through Alexandrine’s diary, Andi begins to live again as she sees hope for another little boy, one who lived 200 years ago.

The time warp through me for a loop. Despite having read the blurb, I wasn’t ready for it. It didn’t feel right. On paper (or powerpoint) Amade Malherbeau (a French composer created for the novel) seemed like filler content; an outlet for her musical passions. It wasn’t until Purgatory (Part Two) that Amade had any substance, and suddenly there was a new beauty to his music. When Andi experiences Revolutionary Paris all the events become real. The little boy in the tower becomes real. As Purgatory continued the seams of the story began to weave together and gained a deeper meaning. It gave Andi a chance to be reborn, a chance to live again.

Donnelly has created a wonderful mixture of past and present, music and science in her latest young adult novel: Revolution. I recommend it to anyone who loves historical fantasy or music.

Raiding bookshelves Rating
Judging a Book: There were two covers for Revolution. The version I read had the featured cover. It was my preferred cover. The ornate key hanging from the red ribbon was too full of meaning to ignore. For Andi it was the key to life, a memento of love. For Alexandrine, it was a promise. More importantly, for the survivors of the French Revolution, the red ribbon was the symbol of a lost loved one. They were worn about the neck at the Victim Balls (Bals des Victimes).

The background is the textured colour of old paper. It is covered by faded images of Paris with an overlay of musical scores. A wonderful collection of imagery for the novel.

The alternate cover had two faces. Presumably Andi (black and white) and Alexandrine (portrait). I like that which ever way you turn it, one of the girls is inverted. I also like the stark contrast of colour against black and white. The red ribbon in the middle, with the title, is the most significant part. The ribbon sits symbolically across their throats.

I think I prefer the key because I like to create my own picture of a character. The models don’t really look anything like I imagine Andi or Alexandrine. Andi looks too soft and Alexandrine looks too feminine and pretty.


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