Monday, September 3, 2012

Revolution (review)

3/5 stars

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly tells the story of two girls living centuries apart, one in the present and another during the French Revolution.

Andi, struggling with the death of her little brother, is failing out of her expensive private school and struggling with thoughts of suicide.  In an attempt to help her graduate, her father institutionalized her mentally ill mother and takes her on his business trip to Paris.

In French Revolution, Alexandrine is an actress and street performer working for the royal family.  Her only job is to make Louie, the little prince of France, smile.  That becomes increasingly difficult as the french revolution escalates.

My biggest problem with this book is Andi.  She's angry, lashing out at everyone she knows and very prickly.  It's understandable.  She's angry and blames herself for her brother's death.  She's suicidal, taking more pills than she should to try to stop the urges.  She's difficult to like.

The problem is that everyone around her still seems to like her.  She meets an extremely hot french taxi driver who happens to be a musician (just like her!).  Despite the fact she's unreliable and prone to hysterics, they immediately start building a relationship.  For me, the relationship is not believable and takes me out of the book.  I can't imagine this hardworking, talented guy putting up with Andi's crap.  Maybe if he'd known her for years, before the accident that took her brother's life.  But they just met and he goes out of his way to help this unstable girl that he doesn't even know.

I was also irritated by the music in this novel.  I hate when books reference current music.  In no time this book will be outdated.  (Maybe it already is! I don't really know since I listen mainly to audiobooks).

On the flip side, I absolutely loved the French Revolution sections of this story.  I find Alexandrine's friendship with Prince Louie completely believable.  Originally her motivations aren't pure.  She sees working for the royal family as a path to fame and fortune on the french stage.  She is selfish.

Then when everything starts falling apart she discovers that she's grown to care for the little boy.  She puts herself in danger to help him even after he's imprisoned.  Every night she goes undercover to set-off fireworks, hoping to cheer his heart and help him survive his unjust imprisonment.

The history was fascinating.  The French Revolution was such a tumultuous and horrid time, there are stories upon stories that could still be told.  There was so much conspiracy, betrayal and death.  While that makes it one of the darkest sections of history, it also makes it an excellent setting for a fictional story.

If somehow I could just recommend Alexandrine's story, while telling you to avoid Andi's I would.  However the way the two stories are interwoven that's not possible.  As a reader you have to ask yourself, can I put up with Andi's story while still enjoying Alexadrines?

The audiobook narration was quite good.  If you're interested in giving this a chance I recommend, checking it out on audio.

If you're like me & find the French Revolution fascinating check out this Crash Course video.



Unknown said...

Awww that is so sad! I loved this novel. Interesting how things can affect people differently, isn't it? I really liked Andi, despite her angst, and I was happy someone came to care for her in the midst of her darkness. The music I thought was cool too. The Decemberists are my favorite band, so I was ecstatic she mentioned them, and then there's Radiohead! Everyone knows at least a little Radiohead, and they aren't going anywhere any time soon.

I do agree about the historical part too. I love anything about the French Revolution. It's just so terrifying, and any time I read about someone trapped in it I get extremely anxious!

I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the book. I hope your next read is better!

Also, this may be the second comment you get like this. I wasn't sure if my last one didn't go through, or if it is simply pending approval. Sorry if it goes through twice!

Cassi Haggard said...

I actually like The Decemberists too. There are days I want to play Yankee Bayonet on repeat. But if your'e going for longevity, it really impacts the book and offputs readers who don't know or don't like the bands. Also it always strikes me as hipster.

I just had trouble believing he would've helped Andi as much as he did or that she was in any state for romance. Suicide and depression are complicated and tend to destroy relationships rather than create them.

The book wasn't horrible, just a very mixed book for me.