Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

3.5/4 stars. I can’t quite decide how to rate this.

‘Open your eyes and know that I am here. That I remember and hope. Open your eyes and look at the light.’

Okay, quick preface: practically everyone in this novel is a caricature and cliché – the emotional alternative teenager who nobody gets, who no one could possibly understand or help; the eccentric English family living in New York; the genius teenagers who need drugs to numb the pain of their super privileged lives and education; the gorgeous Frenchman with his crazy music skills. No one felt real, with the exception of Alexandrine and G, who I was rather fond of.

Andi is the biggest pain in the ass of a narrator I have ever encountered, she was just a jumble of angst and cliché and suicide attempts that was barely believable, and if I start talking about her and Virgil I’ll give myself a headache. But their relationship was ridiculous. I don’t believe that a man, no matter how gorgeous he may be, magically makes you happy and takes away all your deep-seated depression and hatred in a couple of days. Ridiculous.

I know a lot about depression and anxiety, a lot about feeling like no one in the world knows what you’re going through, and I know that is manifests differently for each person, but I just couldn’t buy into Andi’s feelings of grief, of sadness, of nothingness. There’s a difference between acting out because you feel so lost and broken and just being an asshole to everyone around you and using grief as an excuse to do so. She needed a good slap, to be perfectly honest, as all she did was bitch and moan about everything around her – it’s impossible to feel sympathy for her because she is just so unlikable. A few pages of good deeds don’t make up for how much I despised her for four hundred pages.

Having said that, I did actually like this book and that is entirely down to Alexandrine’s diary which was fascinating and made Andi a bit less excruciating; the story really picks up when Andi goes to Paris and discovers the diary, as the focus is less on Andi and her angst and more on what happened to Alex; strange and unexpected things happen in this book, which almost make up for Andi’s personality and idiotic decisions, and the ending is incredibly strong and heart-warming.

I think it would be nearly impossible to make any aspect of France’s history with revolutions sound boring and I was genuinely interested in Alex’s story – she was the star of this book. The world of revolutionary France is brought to life beautifully in her diary entries, through the eyes of a girl who goes from poor player, to the Dauphin’s companion, to unlikely spy and then hell raiser; I would have happily read 400+ pages of her diary and I wish there had been more of it in Revolution, as it was Alex’s story, not Andi’s, that I found myself caring about.

Read: February 26th-1st March 2015

4/5 stars

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