Friday, January 14, 2011

Revolution Review (Jennifer Donnelly)

Synopsis: Brooklyn: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She's angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she's about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights' most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn't want - and couldn't escape. Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine's diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There's comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal's antique pages - until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine's words transcend pages and time, and the past becomes suddenly terrifyingly present.

Review: Yet another review on a book that I could not - and won't - finish. I hope that this is not the case for all the new-release books I read. I tried to finish Revolution - I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. But after 196 pages out of 471, 31 chapters, and 15 s-words later, I shut its cover for good with a small, sad shake of the head.

First things first - the book is written in first-person, present-tense narrative. I hate present-tense books - it just gives the Author a "legitimate" (so some say) reason to use choppy sentences. Revolution was no exception. Second thing: Andi is one of the the most aggravating, selfish, disrespectful, idiotic, unappreciative adolescent leading-lady characters I have ever encountered. I could not stand her from the very beginning. I know that she has suffered from a traumatic experience, but it seems that she just uses that as an excuse for an attitude that was already there.

Note: the reason I don't read modern-set stories very often is because nine times out of ten, they concern dysfunctional families, depressed artistic mothers, workaholic jerky dads, a juvenile delinquent daughter - and brother, usually, unless that brother is too young to be a juvenile delinquent, in which case he is a superfluous character who is there to make the Reader feel even more miserable and depressed. That is all Revolution seemed to be about! Life has too many of these the way it is - why would anyone want to read a book about it?!

But what about Alexandrine? Through the first 17 chapters, I kept telling myself to just read until Andi found the journal - then maybe things would improve. Well, the parts with the journal are better - but not enough. Perhaps I would have been willing to wade through more of it if the journal entries didn't present just as many expletives as the rest of the book. And the modern slang Alexandrine used drove me up a wall. Another thing that drove me up a wall and made the journal parts irritating to read was the fact that when a character spoke, there are no quotation marks.

Content-wise - well, there's language. 2 g--damns, 15 s-words, and 1 f-word. In the little bit that I read - no doubt there is more. There are sexual references, but none of it explicit - again, in what little I read, so if you read this book and there is a scene somewhere beyond Chapter 32, do not blame me - I didn't read that far. What is probably the most disturbing content is how often Andi considers - and attempts - to kill herself, as well as drug abuse. A young teenage girl struggling with this issue is too real and too close to home for a lot of people to make it a comfortable read, and I found myself constantly angry at Andi - but also wanting her to die simply because, as the narrator and heroine, I found her excessively annoying.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly does not come recommended.

Star Rating: 1/5 (didn't like it)

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