There is only one thing I fear now–love.
For I have seen it and I have felt it and I know that it is love, not death, that undoes us.
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly manages to be two novels in one. It’s the story of Andi, a girl consumed by grief. It’s also the story of Alexandrine, a girl from the French Revolution whose journal Andi finds and reads.
What I Liked
– I love a good story within a story, and Donnelly definitely pulls it off here. Alex and Andi are both fully realized characters with clear plot trajectories and character growth. Both stories are well-handled, and, although the parallels are not always obvious, Andi’s fascination with Alex makes perfect sense.
– Fantastic characters. Not just Andi and Alex, but the supporting players, too. Andi’s parents and friends, the different people Alex encounters. Love Vijay–I wish we got even more time with him.
– Virgil. Virgil is amazing fantastic and everything a love interest should be.
– Andi is a musician, and I love the way music is used in the story. I’m not that keen on Virgil’s mad rhymes, but they serve a purpose and are well used, so I’ll accept them. Just like I’ll accept the focus on how music connects us and is a universal language in this novel (and real life!).
– Alex is an actress (“player”) and she uses her art in the same way. Love.
– This is a book about grief and trauma and how both transcend time and class.
– I also super love the importance of connection, and, more specifically, how reading fosters a connection and can help us feel less alone.
– I found Andi a little whiny, rich girl in the beginning, and I think that Donnelly manages to make her more relatable as time goes on. Stories about depression are always hard to read anyway, and this book would have been a lot harder to bear if I just found Andi annoying, so I’m glad that issue is solved right away.
Think you only kings have power? Stand on a stage and hold the hearts of men in your hands. Make them laugh with a gesture, cry with a word. Make them love you. And you will know what power is.
What I Didn’t Like
– Purgatory. I just really could not get with this part of the book. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it just did not work for me.
– I also felt the book could be a little shorter. But, again, that’s probably because I didn’t like the purgatory section.
– The book starts a little slow (see above comment re: whiny, rich girl) but once it got going, I was completely interested and invested.
– Okay, please excuse me as I vent a little about my own issues. I love the trope of the vacation romance in general. Well, at least I did until I realized that, you know, it’s a repeating trope that has no basis in my reality. It is so not real life, and I feel like Andi finding a hot guy in Paris that wants to deal with her and all her brokenness is just one of those things that continue to make me feel inadequate because I haven’t had a vacation romance. Why can’t I meet a Virgil is what I’m saying. DEAR TEEN LIT, STOP IT. IT’S NOT FAIR.
In conclusion: Very engrossing story with with great characters and a great plot, though it is a little sad.
YA Reading Challenge: 23/20; Support Your Local Library: 26/30