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Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary/Historical

Release Date: 10/12/2010

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About the Book: Andi Alpers is living life just going through the motions. She's angry at her father for leaving, upset that her mother can't handle her emotions, and depressed and wracked with grief over the tragic accident that killed her younger brother. With the threat of failing out of school looming, Andi's father decides to take her to Paris with him on a research project so Andi can do some research on her final project. While there, Andi discovers a diary belonging to a Alex, a girl who lived in Paris two centuries ago. As Andi begins to read Alex's diary, she begins to recognize herself in Alex's words and the girls lives intersect in ways Andi never could have imagined.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I had high hopes for Revolution after loving Ms. Donnelly's previous YA novel, A Northern Light, and I'm happy to report that Revolution did not let me down.

I will admit that Andi is a character that has to grow on you. She's very depressing and hard to care about in the beginning. But once she gets to Paris the story picks up. Her grief comes through loud and clear and she's very hard on herself which at times makes her a tough narrator to read. She can be a tough character to like, but I found myself liking her more as the story went on.

Alex's diary entries, on the other hand, were parts of the story I really looked forward to. Alex's family gives puppet shows on the streets and Alex dreams of being an actress on the stage. When one day her family has a chance encounter with the royal family, Alex finds herself as a companion to the young prince. Her entries about life with the royal family and the brewing revolution are rich and full of historical details, but never feel bogged down with too many facts. Alex is a spunky, strong girl who you know Andi can be like if she tried.

The parallels between Alex's story and Andi's are brilliant and the ways their stories connect slowly unfolds throughout the story. I was drawn into Alex's diary as much as Andi was, and I loved seeing how the two lives paralleled each other and seeing if I could guess the next part of the puzzle. This was a book that I wanted to sit and read for long periods at a time, but at the same time I couldn't because there was so much going on it made my head hurt (in a good way!) because there was so much to take in and I wanted to savor the book.

I loved that music played such an important role in the book. Andi's final research paper is to research a musician Malherbeau and the role classical music plays in modern music. There are lots of musical mentions and various bands named. I read a couple of reviews that stated they didn't like this because it felt like "name-dropping" but I enjoyed it. Maybe because I have a musical background and knew many of the songs and groups that were mentioned, but for me the musical aspects of the book added another layer to the story that I enjoyed immensely.

I didn't find the twist silly-but maybe because I had expected it all along. Instead I loved the way that little things throughout the novel were all connected-to me it was a treat to discover how everything worked out and went together and that made the book even more fun to read.

Revolution is one of my favorite books of the year and I would not be surprised to see this book mentioned during the ALA Youth Media Awards next month.

Book Pairings: For other strong girls in the French Revolution try: Sovay by Celia Rees and The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner. On the music side, go with The Musician's Daughter by Suzanne Dunlop

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC picked up at ALA


  1. I have this one awaiting me next on audio, may dig into sooner now that I now you loved it! :)

  2. I have been reading & listening to this book & really liking it. I agree with not liking Andi very much at first she is growing on me. But I am just loving Alex's story & looking forward to finishing the book & reading your review completely.

  3. Kristen & Connie-I had a co-worker listen to this one on audio so I listened to a couple of discs when my book was being borrowed. It's a great listen as well-very well done on audio!!

  4. I started reading this last week, but it didn't really impress me much. But I think I'm going to try and go further in it, because I've seen a lot of great reviews for it.

  5. Ashley-Yes, you do have to give it a bit to pick up. I hope you enjoy it!

  6. I'm so glad that this one didn't disappoint. I loved A Northern Light so much, so I wasn't sure if Revolution would live up to it. Sounds like I need to go check it out!

  7. Don't wait any longer to read Revolution! It certainly met my expectations. I spent lovely, quiet hours reading about Andi, and music, and the French Revolution...all while vacationing with my daughter in Victoria.

  8. Just picked this up from the library (I had to wait 3 wks for the patron before me to return it while I had it on hold) and can't wait to read it. I've read nothing but phenomenal reviews for it.

  9. I bought this book for myself but ended up giving it to my mom for Christmas before I had a chance to read it!!! So happy you loved it; now I'm even more motivated to pick up another copy :) And I always look forward to seeing which novels you choose for book pairings! I'm really not a fan of Sovay, but I'd like to try The Red Necklace. Happy New Year!

  10. I have been hesitant to read this one, but since it has been getting such great reviews, I think I'm going to have to give it a try.

  11. This is such a great book. I totally loved it! Great review.

  12. I highly enjoyed this book. I thought the musical elements were right on...Donnelly was especially good at capturing that kind of exacting/brainy/technical/passionate way that students talk about something they think they know everything about. I'm hoping Revolution gets the Printz this time around.


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