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A Reader of Fictions: I Wanna Be Sedated - The Ramones

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, December 6, 2010

I Wanna Be Sedated - The Ramones


Jennifer Donnelly
Genre: historical fiction, young adult
Pages: 472

Brief Summary:
Andi attends a prestigious school, one of the ones pretty much guaranteed to get you into any college you want. Her parents are wealthy and she has almost everything she could possibly want. Except for her dad (who's still alive), her mother (who's mentally off somewhere else a lot of the time) and her brother (who's dead). Her brother Truman's death destroyed everything for Andi. Since then, she has been on prescription drugs for her depression, Qwells. They obviously don't work very well though, since she is still extremely self-destructive and hell-bent on committing suicide. The only reason she hasn't is her commitment to music, but even that is starting to wane. Her neglectful father, who lives in a different city, shows up, ships her mother (who won't stop painting images of her brother--instead of the still lifes that made her career) off to a psychiatrist, and tells Andi she's coming to Paris with him until she writes her thesis. In Paris, Andi discovers a diary from the French Revolution that changes her entire life.

If forced to give an overall statement on this book, I suppose that it was good and I liked it well enough. Really though, I have to break it down into quarters, because I found the book to be very uneven. Some sections I hated and others I really thought were clever.

The opening of this book was amazingly similar to Adios, Nirvana, which I read a couple of months ago: a self-destructive guitar player wants to follow their sibling into death, because they feel responsible for it having happened. There is definitely some Gossip Girl in their too, what with the spoiled prep school kids who skip school, do drugs and weave a tangled web of who has dated (or hooked up with) whom. This section was awful. I hated Andi (and I never came to like her much) and almost everyone else. The star of this section (and my favorite character in the whole book, even though he makes only cameo appearances) is her best friend Vijay. He is a genius, who is calling every potentate imaginable for quotes for his thesis and actually getting them. He also comes up with the most hilarious nicknames for his mother.

The next chunk focuses more on Alexandrine's diary and is, to me, much more interesting. This follows more along an Iain Pears for teens type of line. The diary entries are really interesting, as is the historical focus. I was a little confused by the order of the entries and could not figure out how it had been constructed, as the first ones were further ahead in time than the middle ones, but oh well. They may not be in the order they would be most likely in a historical sense, but they do make a logical progression weaved into this story.

The third part is really frustrating again. For one thing, Andi gets super mad that they guy she's been dating in Paris was kissed by another girl, even though the French kiss all the time. She runs off and almost commits suicide...again. Then she hits her head on a rock and the plot goes somewhere absurd. I know what Donnelly was trying to do here, but I really think it's over the top. And obvious. I don't want to say what happens to avoid spoilers, but you'll probably know.

The last section, the epilogue, was to me reminiscent of what Dostoevsky did to Crime and Punishment or J. K. Rowling did to Harry Potter 7. Everything has been terrible through pretty much the entire book, until the chapter before the epilogue, but her future is made of sunshine and rainbows. She is suddenly completely happy without the drugs and no longer feels guilty for her brother's death (which is absolutely absurd by the way, by which I mean how Donnelly staged his death). In addition, her mother's all better too and she has a fantastic new life in Paris with her boyfriend. It all feels saccharine, especially after the story was so dark. It also feels a bit like what made a lot of the difference was the boyfriend (which is gross).

That came out more negative than I perhaps intended. Though flawed (obviously), Revolution is a good read once you get past the first part. Once the diary entries began, I became intrigued to discover the answer to the historical mystery within its pages and thus did not want to stop reading anymore. Definitely a good teen novel for historians!

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