Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly is a clever, multi-layered novel that weaves together the stories of two teenagers – Andi Alpers, who blames herself for the death of her younger brother Truman and performer Alexandrine Paradis, who is desperate to prevent the murder of ten-year-old Louis-Charles, the son of King Louis XVI during the French Revolution. Donnelly brings together the stories of these two troubled teenagers, born centuries apart, in a truly compelling way.
The novel references Dante’s Divine Comedy and is structured into three parts: Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, and it is Hell where the girls are for most of the novel. Andi is tormented by guilt over the death of her brother and Alex is trying to survive the horrors of revolutionary France. I enjoyed Andi’s wry narration but this well researched book is very dark at times, particularly the scenes set in the catacombs under Paris. Skeletons, headless bodies and other ghastly sights are vividly portrayed to the reader and Donnelly certainly brings history alive.
I found it an engrossing read and I can see why it has been such a success. It has been chosen as a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2010) and as one of ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2011).
Read more about Revolution and Jennifer Donnelly here.