Tag: Historical Fiction

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Published: October 12. 2010
472 pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

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.

PARIS: 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 paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

Kim’s Review:

I love this book so much! This was the first book that kept me up until 3:00 in the morning and then I had to give study halls to all my classes so I could finish it. Yeah, yeah, I was occasionally a bad teacher.

Revolution is the perfect combination of history and fantasy. No, none of us can really step back in time to live out the life of an obscure historical criminal just to see how the story ends. But Andi did, and we can all live vicariously through her. Donnelly does a great job of showing the other side of the French Revolution. It seems like in every portrayal, the royals are the bad guys and the revolutionaries are the good guys. That is not the case at all. As with most history, the Revolution was not black and white. There were no good guys or bad guys, there were people who fell on one side or the other. Both sides were guilty of horrible things and both sides did good things. Donnelly gives us a look into some of the true innocents in the Revolution, the royal children. Louis XVI and Marie Antionette had several children, but only their daughter survived the Revolution. What is truly sad is that their son, Louis-Charles, suffered in ways that no child should ever have to. He was imprisoned, sealed into a room and reduced to starvation and madness.

Andi was an ok character. I felt sorry for her because of the death of her brother and her mother’s downward spiral into a mental breakdown. Her father certainly didn’t help matters by ignoring everything, including Andi. But, at times, she turned into a whiny teenager and I lost patience with that attitude really fast! Alexandrine, the girl in Paris during the Revolution, was a much more likable character. She was faced with tough situation after tough situation and yet she kept fighting and trying and I found her fascinating! Overall, this is just an awesome book that held my attention from the first page to the last page. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who likes historical fiction and to any teen whether they like to read or not.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen

Author: Matt Killeen
Published:  March 20, 2018
423 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

A Jewish girl-turned-spy must infiltrate an elite Nazi boarding school in this highly commercial, relentlessly nail-biting World War II drama!

After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah–blonde, blue-eyed, and Jewish–finds herself on the run from a government that wants to see every person like her dead. Then Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He’s a spy, and he needs Sarah to become one, too, to pull off a mission he can’t attempt on his own: infiltrate a boarding school attended by the daughters of top Nazi brass, befriend the daughter of a key scientist, and steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. With years of training from her actress mother in the art of impersonation, Sarah thinks she’s ready. But nothing prepares her for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she’d ever imagined.

Kim’s Review:

This book was slightly disappointing to me. I had just finished the exhilarating Resistance by Nielsen; I got this book brand new off the shelf at Barnes and Noble, and the cover is so beautiful, so I picked it up right away. I know it’s not fair to compare books, so I’m going to try not to. Orphan Monster Spy just felt shallow to me. I didn’t feel any real connection to Sarah.

The story itself was good, but often times it felt inconsequential. By the time I finished it, it was empty, I felt very little. I really didn’t like the way Sarah was constantly comparing herself to the Nazis. It annoyed me that someone who was standing up against a regime that was so obviously evil, could then put herself into the same category as the “monsters” she was trying to fight. Killing someone who is about to kill an innocent person does not put you on the same level as the killer. I like having clearer distinctions of morality and this book suffered because it didn’t have those distinctions. It kept my attention well enough and I did like certain things about the story. Certain circumstances came to light to show just how evil individual Nazis were, and I liked the perspective of condemning not just the Nazi organization, but individuals as well. Seeing the brutal standards that the Nazi held not just for themselves but for their children was interesting.

I think my favorite part of the book was when Sarah participated in the River Run. She showed courage and cleverness and it was the one time in the book where I actually found myself rooting for her. I am glad I read this book, I did learn a little from it, but I don’t plan on reading it again and I can’t really bring myself to recommend it.

 Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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The Devil’s Arithmetic

Author: Jane Yolen 
Published: 1988
175 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating:  4 stars

Book Description:

Hannah dreads going to her family’s Passover Seder—she’s tired of hearing her relatives talk about the past. But when she opens the front door to symbolically welcome the prophet Elijah, she’s transported to a Polish village in the year 1942. Why is she there, and who is this “Chaya” that everyone seems to think she is? Just as she begins to unravel the mystery, Nazi soldiers come to take everyone in the village away. And only Hannah knows the unspeakable horrors that await. A critically acclaimed novel from multi-award-winning author Jane Yolen.

Kim’s Review:

My mom gave me this book and it fit perfectly into my Holocaust fiction kick. It’s a small, thin book and it only took me about an hour to read. It’s simple and uncomplicated and I think would be good for middle school Holocaust education. The only thing I didn’t really like about it was the “time travel” element. I get why Yolen put it in there, and it was good that Hannah “experienced” a lot of the things that she heard her grandparents and aunts and uncles talked about. And I have a feeling that middle schoolers would be far more accepting of fantastic details like that, it just really wasn’t my cup of tea. But other than that, I really liked this book.

I think it would be a great educational tool and it identified a major problem with our current education/youth culture. So many kids don’t care about the Holocaust or learning about it and they tend to either ignore or to sweep it under the rug. This book lays out in simple, yet meaningful detail, the circumstances faced by so many in the camps during those years under Nazi rule. I liked it very much and I would recommend it to anyone who likes slightly fantastic historical fiction and absolutely to any middle schooler.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

 

 

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