Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly is a stand alone YA novel. It was published by Bloomsbury on 3rd October and the book is 472 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.
Broken, failing school and failing life. Andi has major problems since the death of her little brother and now, she only cares about music and it’s taking over her life. Leading an intervention, her father whisks Andi off to Paris to force her to sort things out but she gets a lot more than she bargained for. Hidden in the compartment of an old guitar, Andi finds a diary from the days of Revolutionary France.
Through her diary, Alexandrine tells her story of the Revolution. A poor street performer trying to save the life of someone she probably should never have met in the middle of a devastating war brings out something different in Andi. Although centuries apart, these two girls have much more in common than Andi thought possible and she finds herself fully immerged in the life of Alexandrine and the fate that awaits her.
What I thought
A few months ago, I went through a phase of wanting to read books set in Paris but there aren’t too many YA books like this out there. I was so happy when this book came through the door and I realised where it was set. Paris, both past and present.
Many of you will know that I study English at university but what you don’t know is that I actually wanted to study History but didn’t have the relevant grades to do it. I love reading books that have a lot of history in them and Revolution certainly had this element. As soon as Andi found the lost diary, I began to get really excited about where the story was heading. Alexandrine’s diary explores Parisian life before and during the Revolution and shows it from different sides. As Alexandrine comes from a poor family, we get to see how life was for the non-privileged people but as well, we get to see what was going on with the royal family at the time. The imagery of these times was extremely vivid and that made it possible to feel as though you were there, living Alexandrine’s life. You can also see just from the bibliography how much research has gone into this novel.
Not only does Revolution explore Paris during the Revolution but as Andi is forced to visit for a while, we also get to see Paris through her eyes, not that she explores much of it. The parts of Paris that she does manage to experience though made a real change from what is normally written about. In this book, tourist attractions aren’t relied on and instead, a more normal Paris is explored. Ok, so maybe one or two tourist attractions are mentioned but it would be hard to set a book here and not mention the Eiffel Tower so I didn’t mind that at all, especially when it has a big impact on the story. Overall though, I loved being able to hear about Paris from different points of view.
The music aspect that is woven throughout this whole book was completely perfect in my eyes. Andi’s obsession with/ love for music was so beautifully written and I could feel everything that she was in this aspect. Although Andi uses music as a way to escape her realities, it was still clear that she loved it very much. Her passion for the subject shines through in every sense possible, from the way she talks about different musicians to the way she plays her guitar. As the book is told from Andi’s POV and also that of Alexandrine, this was a good way to make it not all about the music but to let enough of it come through at the times it was needed. I loved the fact that this book had two massive themes running throughout and neither seemed to get in the way of the other. Instead, both are intertwined perfectly and work extremely well together.
I really liked Andi as a main character. She had so much depth to her because of many different things. The death of her brother, her passion and obsession with music, her fiery nature and stubbornness made her fantastic to read about and to get to know more as the book went on. The beginning of the book holds nothing back and doesn’t waste any time in explaining how messed up Andi is and I loved how she was never perfect, not even close to it at any point. Andi’s journey and her reactions to the situations she finds herself in only made her like her more because of how she coped with everything. Her life is far from easy and it was very interesting to watch her try to overcome her problems but also to see how much she was struggling at the same time.
Virgil isn’t your average love interest in a YA book and that was a great thing for me. He doesn’t play the largest parts in this story and that was really refreshing. A lot of the time now, relationships are the focal points and too easily do the heroine’s lives revolve around a boy so I was glad to see that in Revolution, this isn’t the case at all. The fact that he shares Andi’s passion was something that made it possible for her to not feel completely alone in a place she didn’t want to be in to start with. I don’t even think his character was completely needed to be honest but he was definitely a nice added bonus.
Revolution is pretty much my perfect book and definitely my book of the year so far. With the perfect mix of history, music, adventure and sweet romance, I couldn’t have asked for anything more with this one and I think it will be extremely hard to top!