Book Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Posted May 9, 2016 by @Angelized_1st in Books, Entertainment / 2 Comments

Book Review: Passenger by Alexandra BrackenPassenger by Alexandra Bracken
Series: Passenger, #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 5th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure, General, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance
Pages: 496
Format: Hardcover, eBook, Audio Book
Source: Purchased
ISBN: 9781484715772
Buy on: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks

Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

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, his passenger, can find. In order to protect her, Nick 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.

“I cannot help but think, it matters not who you love, but only the quality of such a love. And so what I wish to say to you is…a flower is no less beautiful because it does not bloom in the expected form. Because it lasts an hour, and not days.”

I’ve owned The Darkest Minds for years, and have yet to read it, but when I saw Passenger I knew I had to have it. From its beautiful cover, to the novel’s exciting description, Passenger appeared to be a book I would love. Passenger tells the story of Etta Spencer, a young violinist who discovers she’s part of an old family with the ability to travel through time. Forced into another time that’s not her own, Etta unravels the truth about her family’s past as she attempts to find her way home. Throw in Nicholas Carter, a handsome pirate, and the evil Ironwood family who wants to use Etta for their own ends, and you have the makings of an exciting new series. It was, and it wasn’t.

“This was the danger, the seduction of time travel, she realized—it was the opportunity, the freedom of a thousand possibilities of where to live and how to start over. It was the beauty open to you in your life if you only stopped for a moment to look.”

I loved the concept of this book. Getting to see history through the eyes of a modern teenager, as she unravels mysteries, and dodges danger. Passenger was everything I hoped for in this regard. I really loved the characters, and thought the plot was pretty good, if a tad bit predictable. Etta and Nicholas have the makings of a sweet romance, and I loved all of their scenes. However, I do think their relationship was unnecessarily rushed before their chemistry could really build. But on their own as individual characters, Nicholas and Etta are very well-developed.

Etta has been very sheltered, and I enjoyed watching her blunder her way through the story. Though she’s a modern girl use to lots of conveniences we all take for granted, I thought she adapted very well to her situation. Nicholas is another interesting character. I really appreciated that he’s a man of color, and how Bracken used history to inform his past. What Nicholas went through in his life is something that happened more than people want to think, and I was able to relate to him by the stories of my own family’s history. As for the villains, they were also very well-developed, and I enjoyed hating them. I can’t wait to see if they become more developed in future novels.

“What a privilege it was to never feel like you had to take stock of your surroundings, or gauge everyone’s reactions to the color of your skin.”

As I stated above, I loved how Bracken kept coming back to Nicholas’ situation and experience as a black man throughout the story. While this aspect didn’t overpower the story, it was nice that it kept coming up as an issue. I love diversity in books, but I hate when it feels like it was thrown in to complete some kind of checklist. This wasn’t the case here. Nicholas’ story seemed very well thought out, and fit perfectly within the story and world Bracken created. I also enjoyed how Etta’s eyes were opened to Nicholas’ situation.

As a young, white female, Etta never had to be conscious of herself as a person, because it’s never been a real issue for her. While Etta is familiar with race, and racism, it’s not something she’s ever had to deal with personally. I thought this aspect of the story was a much-needed addition to this historical fantasy, as it doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, but confronts them head-on.

“Love was selfish, wasn’t it? It made honest men want things they had no right to. It cocooned one from the rest of the world, erased time itself, knocked away reason. It made you live in defiance of the inevitable. It made you want another’s mind, body; it made you feel as if you deserved to own their heart, and carve out a place in it.”

And now for the dreaded insta-love. I knew Nicholas and Etta would have a romantic relationship from the beginning, but I was disappointed at how it developed. Initially, I thought Bracken did a wonderful job building their relationship, but then it seemed to “jump the shark” from a well-built romance to insta-love. The groundwork for these two was being brilliantly laid, so I don’t understand why it got rushed through its conclusion. I would have preferred to see them continue to fall for one another, and then hook up in the next book.

Despite some misgivings I have about the romance, and the predictability of the story, I still would recommend Passenger. It was a nice beginning to a new series, and the mystery Nicholas and Etta found themselves in held my interest. The well-developed world, characters, and how it held my interest from beginning to end is why I’m giving it four stars. This might not have been in my top five books for 2016, but it’s still a strong first entry to a new series. While I wasn’t over the moon for this book, I am super-excited for the sequel, Wayfarer, and believe it will be a better written book. If you’re looking for a new series since so many are concluding this year, then you may want to check this one out. But be warned! It ends on a cliffhanger, so if that’s frustrating to you, you may want to wait until the next book is released before diving into Passenger. 

About Alexandra Bracken

I’m Alex. I write about telekinetic teens and floppy-haired wizards. I love Star Wars, classic rock, and 18th century gentlemen. When I’m not up at 4 AM writing, you can find me running around the DC area, where I now live and write full time.


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2 responses to “Book Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

  1. Great review! Now that the hype has died down for this novel, it’s nice to see realistic reviews so I don’t go in with the highest of hopes. Like you, I’ve had the Darkest Minds sitting on my shelves for years (I can see it right now) but I’ve yet to pick it up. I won Passenger a few weeks ago, but when I picked it up and read the first few pages, I realized it just wasn’t the right time lol. But anyway, I’m glad to see you liked this novel! Hopefully I will get around to it soon, because it sounds like a great book!
    Lefty @ The Left-Handed Book Lover recently posted…Lefty’s Lowdown: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan MatsonMy Profile

    • @Angelized_1st

      It was pretty good, but it took me some time to get into it. Hopefully you’ll feel like checking it out soon. Thanks for stopping by!

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