Rating: 5/5 Stars
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