Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Title: Revolution

Author: Jennifer Donnelly

Genre: Fiction – YA

About: (Book flap)  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.

My thoughts: This was a book club pick that had been on my radar for a while so I was happy to read it. I thought the premise was interesting. There were numerous pop culture references – some I ‘got’, some I didn’t. Having majored in music, the classical music aspect of the novel was my favorite.

There was a lot of angst but I understood where Andi was coming from re her emotions about her life. I just wanted to give her a hug (since neither of her parents seemed able), assure her that life would get better and that she wasn’t at fault for her brother’s death. I think my favorite character was Virgil who became Andi’s friend when she needed one most. He was a talented musician and a thoughtful friend.

The parallel story about Alexandrine was probably a good introduction to readers not familiar with the French Revolution. I’ve read other historical fiction novels about that time that were more satisfying.

Upon finishing the book I felt I wasn’t the intended reader for the book. I thought it was ok but that’s it. There were parts I really liked and some I just didn’t feel a connection. I was in the minority in my group. Reactions were mostly favorable.  I’m going to give it to my niece and get her take – she’s seventeen and an avid reader. Did you read it?  What did you think?

Rating: 3/5 stars

Recommend? I think fans of YA fiction will enjoy it.

Source: I bought it.

39 thoughts on “Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

    • Vivienne, I really enjoyed The Tea Rose and hope to read the sequel at some point. I hope you get to read one of Donnelly’s books – she’s a terrific writer!

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  1. This doesn’t sound like it would be for me either especially when you said you’d read other novels with the French revolution that were done better – and pop culture references? Ha! I’d be lost there!!

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    • It’s funny, now that I think about it, maybe it is the combination of the modern and historical stories that didn’t work for me. Separately, I think they were pretty good!

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  2. This has been forever on my TBR but I’ve seen very mixed reviews — either swoons of love or more cooler responses. I’ve put it off because I’m not sure I want to be disappointed!

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  3. This sounds interesting, but I feel the premise has been overdone much too much in the past few years. At least there were a few positives. Donnelly herself has done quite well.

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  4. I have it and have not read it yet…but I will. Your review makes me sort of think twice about it…and I most likely won’t be in a rush to read it…

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  5. I actually have this one waiting to be read. I got is as a B day gift from Mrs Q and I’ve been hoping to get to it soon. I’ll definitely keep in mind the generational pop references. Will let you know what I think once done.

    Going in with your careful words to guide me 🙂

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    • PK, yes, read it and let me know what you think! I think it’s just me. People in my group (also age group) liked it so you may too.

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  6. I read the book and while I found it to be slower in the beginning of her other wonderful books I ended up really liking the book! I guess it is a vanilla/chocolate book.

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  7. I have a copy but haven’t read it yet. I loved your take on this one and now I really want to get my hands on my copy and read it!! Maybe during spring break I’ll be able to read from my shelves!

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  8. Sorry to hear you didn’t like this book but thanks for the recommendation on The Tea Rose. I have been wanting to read a book by Jennifer Donnelly and will try that one first. Thanks for your honest review.

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  9. I liked Revolution until the ending. I really didn’t like how Donnelly wrapped it up. However, I did enjoy the rest of the story. I can definitely see how it appeals to the teens it’s intended for.

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  10. I loved her previous YA book, A Northern Light, so I went into this one with high expectations. When I did read it, back in the fall, I didn’t know how I felt about Revolution. And even now, I don’t know if I like it or not. I enjoyed the story of Alex and her personal transformation. But the connection to Andi was not solid enough for me. It’s as if there were two stories in this book, moving together in parallel lines, but never intersecting, if that makes sense. I have been meaning to try out her adult books though, so we’ll see. I haven’t given up on the author though.

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  11. That’s too bad. I loved The Tea Rose too and had high hopes for this one given all the positive reviews. But it is YA and maybe we aren’t the intended audience 😉

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  12. I haven’t read it, but after reading Michelle Moran’s Madame Tussaud, I can’t imagine the historical part of this book being nearly satisfying enough, just because that one was SO good. I’m still going to try it though!

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