Saturday, September 24, 2011

Book Review: Revolution

Not quite related to this review but a few weeks ago one of my friends on twitter told me about the read 50 books in one year challenge and I went back through my reviews here, counted, and discovered that (including this and Incarceron which I hadn't yet reviewed) I had already read 42 books in one year. That is including a few light novels and that might be including some non-fiction I've reviewed here as well, although all of this seems to confirm that I read ridiculously fast (I think I read this 400 page book in three or four days while I was on vacation, a good chunk of that was in airports admittedly). Not sure I'll be able to keep reading books of this size now that school is in full swing again but I am glad that I got a chance to read this book over the summer (checked it out towards the beginning, had someone place a request, found it again in early August and checked it out again).

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
 There's a surprisingly amount of symbolism in this cover, some of which carries over to the book spine which isn't shown here. I really liked the cover a lot, it shows the basic premise of the story (modern day girl becomes interesting in the story of a girl centuries earlier) and after I read the book I understood the cover better, I don't like the paperback cover nearly as much, so kudos to the designer of this.

Summary: Andi, a genius who is still deeply grieving over the death of her brother two years earlier, is about to fail school when her father takes her to Paris for the winter break to make her work on her senior project. While she's determined to get her project done as soon as possible and get back home she becomes interested in two people over there, Virgil a local musician with his own fears about the future, and Alex, a girl much like her living in the French Revolution and who has a surprisingly tie to her father's research in Paris.

The Good: It's unusual to see historical fiction in YA (it's much more common in MG, or at least I found a lot to read when I was that age) and it's does a good job balancing the historical and modern parts of the story, I enjoyed both equally. I also liked Virgil a lot which surprised me, as soon as he was introduced I knew he was going to be the love interest for Andi but I really liked how he was well fleshed out and how their relationship progressed. It grew the way a platonic friendship does, with two people who become friends and try to hold each other up in bad times and that let the ensuing romance feel very natural and like a moment of triumph for both of them.

The Bad: While Andi's time spent in NYC is important to the set-up of the story, in the end it feels like that section was too long and several parts feel useless in retrospect. I also had some problems with Andi (and her mother) in these early stages that were probably exasperated by having recently read A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend. Both of those stories deal with grief over having lost a loved one but ALSSMDBF starts very soon afterwords and Cassie is actively trying to go through the stages of grief and be able to continue with her life. Andi and her mother having been grieving without moving on for two years and without thinking that this is unnatural, I was just so frustrated with them (and with Andi's father for not doing anything earlier) that I wanted to hurtle the book across the airplane. I have problems in general with characters who don't do things and Andi really tried my paitence here, another reason I wish the earlier section of the book was shorter.

I don't see myself rereading this anytime soon (aka, buying it) but it was a good book and I ended up enjoying it fairly well. There was a twist involving Andi and Alex which I'm sure really bothered some people but I was alright with it and that whole section of the book, that was one of the places where the added length came in handy, although I feel like people need to stop writing about the French Revolution now (since I've seen just so many stories set during it) and write about some other really bloody period of human history.

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