Saturday, January 8, 2011

Show Me Five Review
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Saturday, January 8, 2011
 Show Me Five is a weekly meme  where  you  post the answers to five questions. It was created by  That's a Novel Idea. The questions number indicates the number of answers you will provide. I enjoy using this format to do reviews because it allows me to put my own flair to it, and I have since developed this format into one of several book projects my students use for their independent reading.

1 Name of the Book:

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (audio version)

2 Word that describe the book

Intense, riveting

3 Setting where it place/characters

Although the story begins in Brooklyn, NY, most of the action takes place in Paris, France and alternates between present day and the late 1890's presenting events of the French Revolution through the diary of Alexandrine Paradis. 

For me two of the most important settings in the story for Andi, the main character, were the Effiel Tower and the French Catacombs. Towards the end of the rising action, Andi goes to the Effiel Tower with the intention of killing herself and is saved by Virgil, a young man she meets in Paris and is drawn to romantically. The Catacomb also plays a large part in the story because it is in the Catacombs where Andi becomes Alexandrine's and experiences this character's final days, as she attempts to first save, then comfort the imprisoned Louis-Charles.

Andi Alpers is the protagonist in Revolution. She is still grieving over her brother, Truman's death, which she blames herself for. The only thing keeping her going is her music and the fact that her mother, who is also grieving over the loss of her son, is incapable of fending for herself. She is also a very angry soul which when not directed at herself is very forcefully directed at father. Both her grief and anger is destroying her ability to care about life. Her hopelessness has her on the brink of self-destruction. Forced to go to France with her father, she  becomes obsessed with with an old diary she finds that intimately chronicles Alexandrine Pardis' life during the French Revolution. Eventually, these two girls lives become so intricately entwined that the past becomes the present, and Andi becomes Alexandrine. 

Ellen Page would be perfect to play both the role of Andi and Alexandrine. Andi is tough on the outside, but her grasp on reality is tenuous at best, and Alex is smart and cunning a true survivor. I think Page's appearance could easily shift between both roles, and she is an excellent actress, very forceful but vulnerable looking at the same time.

4 Likes/dislikes:

  • I loved the setting. Donnelly's descriptions of not only present day France, but the France of 1890's because they were vivid and so detailed they had breath and substance. I walked the dangerous streets of Paris, saw the guillotined heads of aristocrats, walked the palace grounds where Louis XVI and Maria Antonieta lived and were eventually were arrested. I also went to the Catacombs with Andi and sat in the library as she researched her thesis and heard her play with Virgil at a Paris cafe.

  • I absolutely adored Donnelly's characterization. Andi and Alexandrine came alive for me. Andi's obession with her music and her research on Amade Malherbeau (a fictional 18th Century guitarist) for her thesis was very realistic. I marveled at the strong connection Andi made between Truman and Louis-Charles and their presences in the story added a important emotional link shared by Andi and Alex. Even the secondary characters, and very minor characters were so real that I could see and experience them in each and every scene. For example, when Andi was trying to obtain research from a French library the prickly librarian who seemed hell bent on thwarting Andi getting the books she need was so vividly described that I could see his stern and disapproving face clearly. 

  • The audio version of Revolution was read by two outstanding narrators: Emily Janice Card was superb as the voice of Andi, and Emma Bering's French accent was perfection as the voice of Alexandrine Paradis. I still marvel at how a voice can convey a personality so exactly and both Card and Bering accomplished this completely.

  • The most amazing aspect of this book was how beautifully Donnelly  integrated the key events of the  French Revolution, the controversy surrounding Louis-Charles' death, and  her two fictional characters.  It was impossible to discern where historical facts ended and Donnelly's imagination began.
Rating 5 Star or less:

Revolution is a five star rating all the way. There is so much more about this book that I loved it would take me  several more paragraphs to tell it all. I love everything about it and recommend it as one of the best YA books published in 2010.



Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Wonderful post! I so want to read this novel and your post makes me happy to know that I can expect greatness. I love the period of the French Revolution and it seems the author really used it well and in an original way.

Aylee said...

Haven't read this yet but it sounds amazing. Maybe I'll try the audiobook version, too. And who is Geraldine Page?

Jan von Harz said...

Nope Aylee it is Ellen had a brain fart when I work that!

Misha said...

Awesome post! Revolution is one of the best books I read last year.It's such a beautiful and sad book.

@Jan Brain fart? LOL
I can now imagine Ellen Page playing Andi and Alexandrine

Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews) said...

Love this post! Revolution is an amazing book! Ellen Page is a great pick for Andi!

Nina said...

I really want to read this book for the YA historical challenge I'm participating in this year. It sounds so good and that timeperiode is fantastic! Great review.

Melissa said...

What an awesome post! I have this on my shelf, and I'm reading it soon...can't wait! :)

thebookfairyhaven said...

Ok, I am officially going to go out and get myself a copy of this book. Everyone has been raving about this one and to see such a glowing review from you has me convinced that I'm going to have to get this one sooner rather than later.

Sab H. said...

OMG! You are SO RIGHT! Ellen would be awesome for the part. I havent finished the book yet though ao didnt read the whole post but will come back when I do :)

Jenny said...

What a fun meme! I really want to read this book, everyone has raved about it and I want to be in the loop:) And a 5 star rating from you is saying something so I need to get in it!

Book Sake said...

Love this book as well. I totally agree with your casting of Ellen Page too - perfect!

Staci said...

My friend loaned me her copy and now I so can not wait to get my hands on it!!!!! Sounds like a fantastic read!

chelleyreads said...

My sister still needs to read this and hopefully she'll get to soon. I'm glad you really liked it, Jan. Thanks for the great review!


Darlyn said...

Great post. And i totally love ellen. =)

Lily Child said...

This definitely sounds interesting! I love your review format! :)

Anonymous said...

Loved the book I've read it at least 5 times. Whats interesting is I just read another post saying Emma Stone would play a great Andi and Alex.

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