Review | Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

PassengerTitle: Passenger (Passenger #1)
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Release Date: January 5th, 2016
 YA, Fantasy
Pages: 486 (Hardcover)

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever.

“She wondered if, in moving outside of the natural flow of time, they had forgotten the most crucial point of life – that it wasn’t meant to be lived for the past, or even the future, but for each present moment.”

Going into this book, I was a little weary. There’s a lot of hype surrounding this book, but I wasn’t sure if it would be something I would like, just based on the description. While I wasn’t blow away by this book, it did certainly have some great parts. 

I loved the diversity in this book. One of the main characters, Nicholas, was the son of a slave of the Ironwood family. As a result, Nicholas is constantly being faced with discrimination due to the colour of his skin. Since this book is mainly set during the 18th-early 20th centuries, there were some pretty harsh comments and realities that he had to deal with. 

Similarly, Etta, being from the present day, was stunned by how she and other women were treated in the various eras she visited. The way she reacted to certain situations was really admirable. I think the character Sophia was also dealing with the misogyny of the era in a rather interesting way. It was great when these two girls would talk about the different years in which they lived, and it was nice to see Sophia fight back in her various ways, even if they were a little intense sometimes.

A big drawback for me was the pacing of the book. The start was very slow, though it did have a sense of building up to something. That something just took a little while to show itself. Even when things got going, the action would happen in sporadic bursts, and things were rather slow in between. Don’t get me wrong, the action that did happen was really exciting and engaging, and those bits definitely made the book worth reading.

There were a few things about the storyline that didn’t quite add up with me, though. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that I mainly had issue with some of the reveals about Etta’s mother towards the end of the book. 

In terms of the romance between Etta and Nicholas, I wasn’t really a fan of it. I mean, it was pretty insta-lovey, so that alone is a bit of a let down for me. I think they would have been great as just friends. I mean, the way their romance developed didn’t feel very natural, and it just seemed like the sort of relationship that would begin with an awkward romance, then just fizzle out to just being friends. That’s what I would’ve loved to see, anyway.

Overall, I loved how complex and thought-out this book was; there were a lot of fascinating historical nuggets in there, as well as a very intricate time-travelling system. But while I wasn’t amazed by the book as a whole, it’s still a really fun read with quite an exciting ending, and I’ll definitely be checking out the second book when it’s released.


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