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Sunday, March 22, 2015


Jennifer Donnelly
Hardcover, 472 pages
Published by Random House



Readers of If I Stay and Elizabeth George will love Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light. Revolution artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love; it 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.

After Going Bovine, here’s another book that has received several literary awards. I didn’t know this until I went to its goodreads page and saw the list of recognition it has received and that was already when I was starting to write this review. I also mentioned in my previous review that I knew nothing about writing books and I’m rating books solely by how much I enjoy then BUT the kind of writing style Revolution has is what I would imagine a literary awardee would have: deep, depressing, complicated, confusing and something I wouldn’t like. And it is what Revolution exactly is for me.

I couldn’t get into the story. Or stories, for that matter. I initially thought this was going to be a time-travel book sort of like Timeless by Alexandra Monir. It was what made me excited to read the book in the first place and it was looong after that I finally accepted that the time travel would be limited to a figurative way where Andi relives Alex’s life through reading her diary from 200 years ago. Imagine the surprise when 350 pages later, the realistic fiction that I thought it was turned into a supernatural one. I felt like the author ran out of ideas and started randomly adding ones just to finish the book – ideas that ultimately contribute to the plot but stand out way too much so as to be supremely out of place from the rest of the story and it is just sad because you can see that the author did a lot of research in order to complete this book.

Revolution is a story within a story and I would have been okay with that provided that both stories are actually entertaining to read, but it’s the opposite. I couldn’t remember how many times I yawned while reading the entries in Alex’s diary. Andi’s story was just slightly better if not the same.

Aside from that, I couldn’t get myself to like Andi or Alex as characters. I find Alex’s diary just flat and boring but Andi gets so exhilarated whenever she reads Alex’s entries while I just sat here indifferently. Maybe it’s the knowledge that Alex’s story was based in real life in the Revolution-verse that made her diary appeal so much to Andi. I haven’t read a true to life story that’s as action-packed as Alex’s so I wouldn’t know. It’s also not Andi’s fault that I’m so used to a character like her whose life became so messed up because of a brother whose death she blames herself with. This is the second book I read this month with a protagonist like her and one is already too many to last me a whole year. And don’t get me started on the side characters that aren’t too memorable. It’s only been 4 days since I read this and I already forgot their names, including her love interest. I couldn’t even feel the chemistry between them,

I also can't wrap my head around all the coincidences that happened in here. The key, Malherbeau, Brooklyn, guitar, Charles Antoine, Paris... You wouldn't think these are not interconnected but you'll be surprised. I was, and not in a good way.

I’m really interested in historical YA’s that are actually based in real history. I was excited when I found out that Revolution was based in French Revolution (I only found it out while reading because I didn’t read the summary or any reviews prior to reading nor did I get the hint from the title /facepalm) and I was even more excited when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were mentioned because who doesn’t like the infamous “if you don’t have bread why not eat cake instead?” or something along those lines. I had hoped for more of them. I called for more scenes about them but sadly, they’re not the focus of the past part of Revolution.

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