Friday, May 20

Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Title: Revolution

Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Adult Content: the subject of death, grief, drugs and suicide are large features
Keywords: French Revolution, grief, adventure, music
Series: n/a
Goodreads Synopsis:

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, 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.

My Thoughts:

Subject: I love the French Revolution. Everything about it. And I've attempted at several times to write my own story set around these events. So when I found Revolution, I was delighted. There's also a lot about music and how it evolves in this book, which I absolutely loved, because music is third in my heart - my first and second loves being writing/reading and acting, in that order. So this was a great book for me!

However,  it also bangs you over the head with the whole grief/death/guilt/suicide bit - Andi's getting over the death of her younger brother - and although I've got nothing against that kind of thing, it was a bit... Uh... Well, it felt a little exaggerated. It seemed like every five minutes Andi was contemplating which was the highest and therefore best building to chuck herself off. Which , while making its point, doesn't make very comfortable reading. Sure, be grief-ridden. But you don't have to take a baseball bat to our heads and crack it down every five minutes just to get your point through.

Subject: ****

Storyline: It started off well, lost steam in the middle and then completely ruined everything with a cheap and gimmicky 'twist'. You'll know when you get there. It was completely unnecessary, and if you ask me, Andi should have been able to sort her life out without a clich├ęd magicy whatever. It's like saying - oh yeah, people suffer from depression, but you can't sort it out yourself, you have to go all hocus pocus with the help from a 1794 diary. Great. That makes me feel good. So instead of being a human story about human worries, it ended up being more like a fairytale. Lovely. And totally not what I wanted.

Storyline: *

Characters: Nothing particularly special here. They weren't bad, and they certainly weren't good. Andi was a nice narrator when she wasn't trying to commit suicide. And there is also a convenient and very handsome guy about halfway through that I wanted to throttle. Real-life relationships are not based on 'hey, you're handsome, let's go out'. And I'm fed up of people pretending they are. It's a little pet hate of mine =]

Characters: ***

Writing Style: Now, Jennifer Donnelly won about a million and one awards for her debut novel A Northern Light (also published as A Gathering Light), which I haven't read but everyone says I ought to. General opinion is that it's an amazing, heartfelt book that deserves every prize it's got. So why isn't Revolution that good? The writing style is okay, but nothing to write home about. (Unintentional pun, I assure you. But now I look at it, it's kinda neat, wouldn't you say?) So in that respect (as in most others, actually, looking back up this post), this book was a disappointment. The nice message (whatever it is - although people on Goodreads assure me that there is one) has got completely lost in fairytale gimmicky mushiness. Which is a big shame. And a big disappointment. And all round not good.

Writing Style: **

Enjoyability: Well, despite what I've already said, I enjoyed this book. It wasn't amazing, but it wasn't a bad read particularly, either. The only thing that really bugged me while I was reading was that I wasn't remotely interested in the Alexandrine sections. Partly because her character wasn't much of a character, but mainly because they weren't punctuated properly. There were no speech marks! And, okay, maybe this was done for effect, but the only effect it created on me was that I found it very difficult to read. I also don't really like the gimmicky 'two girls, separated by time, but united in whatever'. It didn't irritate me so much in this book, but... Well, it was an enjoyable book despite its faults, so:

Enjoyability: ****

Summary: A good book from a good author. But a disappointing read as its faults far outnumber its assets. Which is a shame. But there you go.

Word Rating: a bad-good book (although this is probably being kind)

                                                            Star Rating:
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