Bethany Larson's Reviews > Revolution

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
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's review
Feb 09, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: wishlist, paris

While reading Revolution, I was awestruck. Donnelly spins an intensely tragic, raw tale of two girls in two different times, but whose stories are the same. Both are hurt, angry, and desperate in a way that I hope to never know. Both want to act, want to make a mark, and want to go out with a bang. I couldn't get enough of it. I was racing through this book, praying my lunch breaks at work wouldn't end so that I didn't have to stop reading. But, of course, they would end.

So last night, I canceled my plans so I could go home and finish this book. (I'm not joking about that.) I read and read and read, and then, about 100 pages from the end, something happened. All of a sudden, Donnelly was using my LEAST FAVORITE narrative technique--the historical time travel.

I know what you're thinking--'But, Bethany, did you not read the summary of the book? It plainly states that "the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present."' Yeah, I got that, but I didn't think it was going to be literal. I mean, Andi is crawling around in the mothereffing Parisian catacombs while reading a diary from the French Revolution. That's pretty terrifyingly present if you ask me.

Anyway, after spending so much time and energy and emotion with Revolution, I found myself getting angry. The book had been so informed and smart and tonally solid and heart-wrenchingly beautiful that I didn't think it could go wrong. But when I got to the part where Andi enters the catacombs and starts talking to the "hot goth guy," I found that a conversation I'd had with a co-worker was coming true--she asked me how I was liking this book and I said, "I love it. I'm a little obsessed with it. But I'm afraid it's going to go to a weird time-travely place, and I really, really don't want it to go there." And as I sat there, at 1:00 AM, devouring this book, I realized that that's EXACTLY where it was going.

I was pissed.

I called my boyfriend and RAILED against it. I cussed the book in English, French, and maybe Pig Latin. He said, "Wow, you must really like this book to be so mad about this. Just calm down and finish it." [Mr. Bethany is sort of great.]

So that's what I did. And as I kept reading, I realized that while Donnelly did use the hated historical time travel technique, she also did something different with it, something that left it open to interpretation. So I'm going to interpret it as NOT historical time travel, and that makes me a much, much happier Bethie.

Overall, this book is fantastic. It's beautifully crafted, extremely well-researched, and has a V for Vendetta vibe to it. So, if that's your thing, or if you're a historical fiction nerd and Francophile like me, then you will adore this book. But I'm warning you, this book is not for the faint of heart (or stomach)--Donnelly spares no disgusting detail when describing the conditions of the French Revolution and there are a couple places that were a little hard for me, the girl with a History major and French minor, to get through. But hopefully that won't stop you from RUSHING to get this book. And if you do, clear your calendar. You won't be able to put it down.

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Reading Progress

February 9, 2011 – Shelved
March 16, 2011 – Started Reading
March 16, 2011 –
page 33
March 17, 2011 –
page 55
March 18, 2011 –
page 152
March 18, 2011 –
page 222
March 18, 2011 – Shelved as: wishlist
March 18, 2011 –
page 313
March 19, 2011 –
page 472
March 19, 2011 – Finished Reading
June 20, 2011 – Shelved as: paris

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