• Page Count: 496
  • Release Date: January 5, 2016
  • My Rating: 3.5 stars

Passenger (Passenger, #1) 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.

I think if you’re used to reading YA plots, this book will come off as a bit slow and tedious. But if you’re fine with the pacing of “adult” historical fiction books then it’s a more enjoyable read! It fell somewhere in the middle for me… like the writing was good but I still wanted everything to get moving.

The story reminded me a bit of Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier with how there are families that pass on the genetic ability to time travel, how the girl finds herself traveling to different times without any training, she’s attracted to the guy she travels with, and her mission is to track down a missing device. It also kind of reminded me of The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig with the whole ship & time travel stuff too, BUT it’s totally its own story.

I didn’t know anything about this plot going into it and think knowing more might’ve helped me stay interested (or know where to skim). So basically, Etta is at a modern violin performance when she unknowingly plays a note that causes a passage through time to open. She’s abducted and ends up on a ship in the eighteenth century, where she runs into Nicholas (the other POV). Etta learns she’s being taken to the evil grandfather of some powerful family that uses time travel to increase their power & wealth. I followed the general idea of why Etta needs to hunt down the device or else the grandfather would kill her mother, but it was just explained in a way that made me lose interest. Then Etta & Nicholas are suddenly in WWII London and then Cambodia and everywhere else Etta’s oddly distant & scheming mother painted and/or told her stories about.

I’m holding off full judgement until I read Wayfarer, but I hope some plot points and locations are used more. SO many awesome conflicts and characters were introduced and then never seen again. But I love historical stories set on ships, so I was super into the first half! Nicholas was my favorite character for sure — I really didn’t get as strong of a sense of Etta.

The strongest part of this book was seeing Alexandra Bracken tackle discussions of racism and sexism through time without tiptoeing around anything. And she created an African American love interest with his own POV, which was so wonderful to finally find.

So there were a ton of elements to the story that I adored (mainly time travel & ships). And I do still plan on reading the sequel tomorrow… but oh my goodness the plot dragged in so many places. I had to work to make myself keep reading and mostly did so because of the book’s potential instead of what was actually happening.

I still recommend it if you like slower historical fiction or can handle skimming large chunks!


9 comments on “Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken”

  1. This is one I’m looking forward to reading just because it has a unique (for me) premise, and let’s be real, that cover! Total #CoverSnob over here. 😉

    • Haha I totally bought it for the cover too! And if you like this story then maybe check out Ruby Red or The Girl From Everywhere 🙂

  2. I really enjoyed Ruby Red, so I’m happy to see that comparison. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t like it as much as you wanted. Hopefully Wayfarer makes up for it!

  3. I’ve heard mixed reviews about this one, so I’m on the fence about it. But now that you mentioned it’s similar with Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier, I will give it a try! (or it’s just my 15 yo talking :D) Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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