Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

PassengerPassenger by Alexandra Bracken

Published January 5th, 2016 by Disney-Hyperion.

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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, 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. (Goodreads)

I was super pumped for this novel. Disney-Hyperion and the author herself did an awesome job of promoting this book for well over a year before it was released at the beginning of the year. By the time I got around to reading it I had watched countless bloggers and BookTubers unwrap their fancy ARC packages where I basically drooled over the cover and synopsis. Swag is always a bonus! Needless to say, I was lucky enough to receive this book from my round 4 #otspsecretsister (who I still do not know the identity of!) She package might have been better than the coveted ARC package from the publisher. Check out my Instagram for pictures of that. So although there are already tons of reviews online regarding this story I thought my thoughts were still valid and could possibly bring something different to the table.

So let’s get to it.

Characters. Nicholas was my favorite character by a landslide. As the main male protagonist, I found myself crossing my fingers every chapter to find another layer to his deep and tragic back story. I really couldn’t get enough of him. Etta on the other hand, who was the main female protagonist was rather boring. She did have a side of sass which I enjoyed but she was rather forgettable. These two meet on unlikely terms and their romance was slow burning. Unnecessary yes, but at least Bracken added diversity to make it readable. At the end of the book I thought the story would have probably been a bit storinger without the romance but there were some scenes that saved it.

Setting. One of the more unique aspects of this story was the setting(s). It changed every few chapters. This is a time travel novel. They traveled to various countries during different time periods but not nearly as many times/places I was hoping for or expecting. Bracken did a fantastic job creating tension and propelling the plot forward in this way.

Plot. Again this is where the time travel comes into play. Etta and Nicholas are jumping around trying to find an artifact that the Ironwoods are after. They follow a set of clues and are time traveling through the different countries and centuries. Each time/place they end up there is a sort of mini plot line they have to solve or fight their way through to get to the next clue. It’s fairly straight forward. I am more than likely making it sound more confusing than it really is.

Conflict. There are several conflicts presented and I am not sure that finding the artifact ended up being the most important conflict our characters had to deal with. Slavery, friendship, family, honor, and a few other topics were weaved within the story.

Resolution. This is book one in a duology. The second book, Wayfarer is set to be released in January 2017. So there was a bit of a cliffhanger towards the end and I do not believe Passenger could work as a stand alone.

Writing. The chapters at the beginning were so long. Sometimes I felt like I was getting nowhere. Then towards the end the chapters were just a few pages. So I definitely felt an inbalance. The writing style was nice. I felt there was enough description but not too much. The first few chapters left me wanting to know more. They felt like a huge set up for the rest of the book but then I just continued having questions as the story progressed. I liked how the racial bit was handled and explained. I was worried that it might not be explained or would be explained poorly so I was happy with those results. There were some things I wish were explained better. In fact, the ancient artifact that Etta and Nicholas are after is an actual real object but I don’t think it was explained what it actually looked like. I am assuming that because Bracken figured the reader would know exactly what she was talking about. There were both fantasy and historical bits but it just wasn’t enough in the end. I never felt fully invested in the characters, the romance, or figuring out the time traveling bit. I just felt along for the ride but it was a tad bumpy.

Will I continue? Yes. I most likely will. I am hoping that there is a better balance or action and that the romance either picks up or completely fades.

Rating. 3.5 stars

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