Book Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly
Publication Date: October 12th 2010 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Rating: StarStarStarStar

Summary: 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.

The main character, Andi, is grieving for the death of her younger brother through doses and doses of antidepressants and music. She was on the verge of flunking out of school when her dad whisks her away to Paris to get her to start writing her thesis on Amade Malherbeau. From the very beginning of REVOLUTION there was no doubt on the two things that Andi loved most: her brother Truman and music. I loved reading about Andi’s passion, and her grief was very relatable. However, at some points she did get a little too depressing to the point that it irritated me.

There is a lot of development to the story and it takes about a hundred pages in for Andi to travel to Paris. The beginning basically dictates the flow of the rest of the book: it’s a slow journey from beginning to the end. At some parts the story did drag on. The book is five hundred pages long. Length does not usually bother me when I read, and REVOLUTION turned out to be just one of those books that felt like it never ended.

One thing is definitely clear from reading REVOLUTION Jennifer Donnelly does her research and she does it extremely well. REVOLUTION is a finely crafted historical novel. I can easily picture 18th century Paris. Alexandrine’s story truly captivated me a lot more than Andi’s. I love being able to travel back into the past and see the French Revolution from Alex’s perspective. Like most historical novels, I did feel the need to brush up on my history. I could not tell the difference between fact and fiction, which just goes to show how realistic a novel Donnelly writes.

My favorite part of the book would have to be the last hundred pages. At first I did not think that the ending would leave me feel satisfied, but Donnelly does a great job tying up all the lose ends in the epilogue.

REVOLUTION is brilliantly written. It’s a long five hundred pages, but I recommend it to those who enjoy a long historical read.


  1. Hmm, well, I’ve about had my fill of very long books for the moment but I do plan on reading this book eventually when I’m up for something a bit lengthier again because it does sound quite good.

  2. Thanks for your review. I’ve heard a lot of really great things about this book, but I was wondering about the pacing. I’m sorry to hear it’s a little slow, but I’m glad to know beforehand.

  3. great review I’m going to be getting this one. Thanks for visiting my blog post about e-books I wanted to let you know a lot of YA books have been available on NetGalley Lately.

  4. I read this back in November and I still don’t know how I feel about it; I can’t decide whether I liked it or not. I loved the diary entries and seeing Alex grow as a person back in the Revolution. I think I would have been happy with just that. But at the same time, I sort of enjoyed Andi’s own growth. I just don’t think the two together worked for me. But hey, after all these weeks, if I’m still thinking about the book, then it clearly left some mark on me. I loved her previous YA though, A Northern Light.

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