By: Alexandra Bracken
Genre: YA Historical Fiction, YA Time Travel, YA Romance
Personal Age Rating: 15+
Rating: 5/5 stars
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, 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.
My Review (spoiler free!):
“Look lively, we’ve a journey to make.”
Passenger was everything I wanted and everything I didn’t know I needed. This novel is truly stunning, filled with a captivating story, beautiful prose and wonderful main characters. I had high expectations going into this book because it is written by one of my favorite authors, Alexandra Bracken, but I had little knowledge on what specifically this book was about. After reading Passenger, I can best characterize it as a treasure hunt through time, filled with an epic romance and a lot of historical information: both real history and fictitious time travel history. This book is more focused on the historical impact of time travel rather than the scientific elements of it, which made it unique to other time travel books I have read and in my opinion, better. The story revolves around the main characters: Etta, a seventeen year old violinist from New York in 2015, and Nicholas, a pirate currently residing on the high seas of the Atlantic in 1776. This book is emotional, engrossing, and leaves you desperately awaiting the sequel to the dualogy.
If you have read Alexandra Bracken’s dystopian trilogy, The Darkest Minds, you know she has a knack for weaving words in the most impossibly beautiful way. Bracken really stepped up her game in this novel… the writing is even better and more profound than that of her previous books, but it also shows a different facet of her talent. While The Darkest Minds is narrorated in first person and is filled to the brim with fast-paced action, Passenger is told in third-person and is definitely a slower paced read. I’ve noticed that many YA readers seem to have an aversion to slower paced books, but I can’t understand why. Just because a story just takes more time to establish and gives more information to process doesn’t make it bad! In this case, it just allows readers to soak the story in and enjoy the beautiful writing and fantastic plot. Point being: Don’t refuse to give this book a shot if you have heard it is slow and you are an action reader. You will miss out!
Another obvious strength of Passenger is the romance. Although romances typically add to a book’s enjoyment level, the romantic relationship between Nicholas and Etta truly enhanced the plot and the characters themselves. Nicholas is honorable, intelligent, and stoic, although sensitive when he lets his guard down. Etta is fierce and determined, but still kindhearted. Because of the way the differences and similarities of the characters collided, I literally fell in love with the idea of Etta and Nicholas being together from the moment they met, and I continued to root for them throughout the novel. Both Etta and Nicholas are struggling with different guilts, goals, and shortcomings, and it is beautiful to see both characters overcome, or wish to overcome these obstacles in order to be together. There are also a lot of really great messages that are (mostly) communicated through the romantic relationship that I was happy to see. Their love is one that transcends all boundaries, and I really, really adored their relationship. Definitely one of my new favorite literary couples!
Something that makes this story so exciting is that it seems as if anything can happen. You never know where the story will go next! From oceans, to jungles, to the 1500s-modern day, this story truly travels all over the world AND all over time. It gave me serious wanderlust! In addition, the world created in Passenger as it relates to time travel is intricate and unique to anything I have ever read before. It is obvious that a lot of time and thought went into planning and executing the novel.
And of course, since it’s me, I have to add I love the literary elements in this book. There is a significant amount of subtle foreshadowing that comes into play later in the book that is very important. And also, since it’s still me, I have to commend Alexandra Bracken for the insane amount of research that must have gone into writing this book!
My only complaint about this book is that I would have liked to see Etta & Nicholas interact with more characters throughout their journey. Bracken is GREAT at writing characters, so I was disappointed that this book revolved so heavily around the MCs.
I am beyond excited for Wayfarer, the final book in this dualogy! I think it has potential to be even better than Passenger, which is definitely going to be a difficult feat!
If you have read Passenger, what is your favorite scene? One of my favorites has to be Etta and Nicholas’s first conversation aboard his ship. I really adored how much respect they already had for each other in that moment!
Thank you for reading my review! I appreciate all of your support!