Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Revolution

by Jennifer Donnelly




After reading “The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova, I was a bit wary about picking up “Revolution”. I know it’s written by a different author, but “The Historian”, as much as I loved it, was such a trove of knowledge that it was wordy and hard to get through at times. But “Revolution” was written very smoothly and almost as though you don’t realize you’re learning something. I was through it in less than a week, even though it’s almost 500 pages.

Andi is a very hard character to like. She’s been though a traumatic event - the loss of her brother - and because of this loses interest in school and friends, and focuses on her music. But even that makes it difficult to bring her back from the brink, and she becomes suicidal. From a person who has led a pretty uneventful life, it’s hard to relate to her. But she has heart, she’s smart and witty, and she’s stronger than she thinks she is.

Reading this book makes me want to go back to Paris. I’ve been there twice, and still Andi leads me to places I want to go back to see: The catacombs, the flea market along the Seine, the sunrise at the Sacre-Coeur. Jennifer weaves in visions of the city along with the drama of the story so effortlessly it’s almost as if you’re watching over Andi’s or even Alex’s shoulder. It’s captivating to see 21st century Paris next to 18th century Paris, especially when Andi goes back in time and meets Amade. I loved the concept of history helping a modern girl through her personal drama.

Music is so central to this book it’s almost another character. It connects the characters in the modern world to the characters in the 1790’s. It flows through the French Revolution right into Andi’s iPod. It brings Andi and Virgil together, it helps Andi connect with Amade, it helps Amade create his masterpieces, and it helps Andi pass her classes. Andi even learns to use it to help trauma patients at the Paris hospital. What a unique way to tie everything together.

If you like history, and you like young adult novels, and you can get past the fact that Andi’s a bit selfish and depressing in the beginning of the book, you will enjoy this story. It’s such a compelling combination of characters, history, and music you’ll find yourself as engrossed as I was.

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