Passenger by Alexandra Bracken | Spoiler-Free Book Review

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Title: Passenger

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Series Standalone: Duology

My Rating: 4.5 Stars


Goodreads Synopsis:

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 travelled 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 traveller 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.

Hey, guys! As you can already see from the title today I’ll be doing a spoiler free review of Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. I’ve been having a great reading month so far and have generously been handing out four-star ratings and today’s book is no different. I thoroughly enjoyed this book so much so that I gave it 4.5 stars. Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate the beauty of this cover, like, seriously, I’m in love. Passenger follows a young girl named Etta who discovers she can travel through time and goes on an epic adventure to retrieve a family heirloom. I’ve never read a book about time travel so I was eager to read Passenger and definitely was not left disappointed. In this review, I’ll be going into more detail about the writing, characters and things I didn’t quite love about the book.

Firstly, one of the main things I loved about the book Passenger was its characters. It’s been a while since I’ve really fallen in love with characters from a book and in this case, I fell in love with Etta and Nicholas dearly, individually and together. Individually, I loved Etta and found her extremely relatable. I especially loved the parts in the book where she voiced her opinions on women’s rights and loved that she had a real feminist vibe to her character. I also extremely loved the other main protagonist and love interest Nicholas Carter. I just wanted to start off by saying that I really appreciated that a person of colour was one of the main protagonists and the love interest of the book. It’s really rare to find an interracial relationship in YA and I really appreciate Alexander Bracken for bringing more diversity to YA. It would be so great if we could see this more often in Young Adult fiction. There were so many great qualities to his character including his ability to quote classic literature which melted my heart. Another aspect of his personality that I loved was his protectiveness over Etta. Sometimes authors can take ‘protectiveness’ and spiral it out of control until its ugly and distorted to become something overbearing and suffocating. However, Bracken does a great job of showing Nicholas to be caring and protective without making Etta a meek and feeble female character. The author does a great job at presenting them as equals which is great to see in relationships in YA as too many times I’ve read about couples where the male is all powerful and borderline problematic. It was also really interesting to see two individuals d from completely different eras with different upbringings who would never have met if not for time travel come together. It was intriguing to see their contrasting opinions and attitudes towards various things. It definitely gave their relationship a different quality to it. It was great to see both the characters individual development throughout the book and see as their relationship developed. I really liked how their relationship didn’t feel like insta-love. I know it can be hard for authors to draw a relationship out especially when there’s a page limit but Bracken does a good job at letting it be a slow burn and you really get to see Etta and Nicholas’ attraction and fondness for each other grow with each page you turn.

Another great aspect of this book was the writing. Of course writing is what makes or breaks a book and in this case, the author did a wonderful job. Bracken’s writing is incredibly detailed which makes it really easy to immerse yourself in the different eras and cities the book brings you to. It’s incredibly clear that a lot of research went into this book and it really shone through to make scenes more vivid and lifelike as if I were actually travelling back in time to Paris, London and Angkor. It’s hard to choose my favourite part of this book but if I absolutely HAD to it’s probably the section of the book that takes place in the underground station in London during WW2. I don’t want to give too much away about this scene but it honestly just really hit me in the feels.

Although there are many great aspects of Passenger by Alexandra Bracken I did find a few faults that I wanted to point out. Some of them are just due to my preference and if you’ve read this book you may find that our opinions differ which is completely fine! The first thing is the science behind time travel and the complexity of it. There’s just something about the concept of time travel that I can’t seem to wrap my head around. I’ve seen countless movies that explore the concept of time travelling including the movie Interstellar and every time a part of me is always left a little perplexed. I understand the basics of it all but when it starts to get more scientific and use terms such as ‘wrinkles’ it seems to just pass straight over my head. Of course, I know this is no fault of the author and just my mind being incapable of comprehending anything remotely to do with science. Bracken actually does a really great job at giving lots of details about time travel. In my opinion, perhaps even too much detail, if such a thing exists as I found myself reading sentences over and over again just to grasp what they said. Similarly, I found that there were large excerpts of the book that contained a lot of information dumping, especially in the beginning with Sophie and Etta in a scene where there is a literal Q & A between the characters that takes up a large chapter of the book. I found the information dumping tedious at times; however ultimately useful to follow the plot of the book.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. Perhaps I will never be able to fully understand time travel but that won’t stop me from picking up the next and last book in this duology, Wayfarer. I can’t wait to see how the story continues to develop especially with how Passenger ended and luckily for me it is already sitting on my shelf waiting to be picked up.


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