Revolution – Jennifer Donnelly

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (13 Oct 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 1408801523
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408801529
  • Jennifer Donnelly’s first novel A Gathering Light , (US title A Northern Light), is one of my favourite YA/crossover novels so I was relishing the thought of getting my teeth into “Revolution” –  7 years is a long time to wait! 

    “Revolution” is a busy novel given that it encompasses so many ideas and themes – love, loss, family relationships, music (lots of music) and science including complex DNA testing.   To complicate matters there’s a dual time frame narrative with Andi, our 21st century Brooklyn girl and Alex(andrine) in 1790s Paris.  Andi is a troubled teen, struggling to maintain an interest in anything including her demanding timetable at St Anselm’s, an expensive private school with a cast of students who wouldn’t look out of place in Gossip Girl or Beverley Hills 90210 for those old enough to remember!  She and her parents are still traumatised by the death of Andi’s younger brother Truman.  Andi is removed to Paris by her father in an effort to encourage her to complete an outline for her senior thesis.  The discovery of Alexandrine’s diary, written in the 1790s,  sets in motion a series of events which push present-day Andi to the brink.

    Revolution is well written, it’s very ambitious, the scenes from revolution-torn Paris are extremely vivid and the author has clearly done her research but…for me, it just didn’t come together as a coherent story.  Andi is teenage angst personified and has very few endearing qualities – yes, I know likeable characters aren’t compulsory but somehow she didn’t ring true for me.  I loved Alexandrine and her account of the travails she and her family faced, her friendship with the young dauphin, her encounters with the intimidating Duc d’Orleansand all the sights and sounds of revolutionary Paris are there for the reader to savour.   However, I found the section where Andi and Alexandrine’s worlds collide a step too far on the suspension bridge of disbelief and things went progressively downhill thereafter.

    Revolution will appeal to teenagers with its pop culture references but it didn’t hit the spot for me as an adult reader.  I also suspect that teen readers don’t need plot devices and gimmicks in order to tie up narratives in neat little packages.

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    1. Ellie says:

      It has a beautiful cover. I haven’t read any of hers but I’ll look up A Gathering Light as sometimes it’s nice to have a YA read now and then.

    2. admin says:

      The cover is gorgeous, Ellie and that and my previous enjoyment of A Gathering Light sold it to me! Mattie, the female protagonist of AGL, is a bibliophile and aspiring writer which definitely helped. :)

    3. Fiona says:

      I really enjoyed Donnelly’s A Gathering Light, it was really well written and I loved the characters.

      However I was a little disappointed when I read The Tea Rose, it was just your typical cheesey, contrived historical romance.

      I am still looking forward to reading Revolution though…

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