I received this book for free from Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
on January 5th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure, General, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance
Amazon // The Book Depository
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.
PASSENGER is epically epic.
if you don’t already know (you reaallly should know this by now), I LOVE THE DARKEST MINDS, alexandra bracken’s other series. i had really high expectations for PASSENGER, and i’m glad it didn’t disappoint – for the most part.
while in TDM the characters were my favorite aspect, the plot and concept is where PASSENGER shines. if you don’t already know, the story is mostly about time travel. the concept is one we all know, but find hard to decipher. there are questions like what if you run into yourself in the past? wouldn’t you be able to see yourself in the future? what if you change an event in the past? bracken did a wonderful job taking an interesting – but confusing – concept and making it understandable. i could hardly find any plot holes, which is rare since time travel is such a sticky concept. it’s clear she put a lot of thought into writing this novel and the results paid off.
“I believe in choosing your purpose and a direction to head – not that there is a party or there just waiting for me to stumble onto it.” (pg. 375, ARC edition)
the entire book connects from beginning to end and is beautifully thorough throughout. there’d be references in writing and in the plot from the early chapters of the book that’d make an impact later on. foreshadowing! repetition! PASSENGER would be a delight to reread. it was so satisfying to finish because it felt very complete. i felt this way about TDM series, but PASSENGER was more profound in this sense. it was like taking a long sip of a cool drink on a hot summer day and feeling the satisfying, “ahhhh.” that’s what it felt like.
“What would hurt worse: the regret that she tried or the regret that she didn’t?” (pg. 399, ARC edition)
the only so-called issue i had with this novel were the characters. it’s not that i didn’t like them; it’s just that they were just mehhh. not intensely complex, but not flat. however, i think they have a lot of potential to grow in the next novel so i’m excited to see how that goes. i wish there were more supporting characters that could, well, be supportive. we have our two leads and a pack of antagonists and a mysterious mom, but where are the friends? the side-kicks? my favorites? i miss them! in general, these characters were harder to visualize. i couldn’t really see them. however, the story is much more plot-driven than character-driven (i don’t mind all that much though because the plot is SO interesting!) and that may have been one of the reasons i had a harder time seeing and connecting with our narrators. but when i did – which was most of the time – i loved them!
“A flower is no less beautiful because it does not bloom in the expected form. (pg. 409, ARC edition)
i was blown away by the world and writing. this book had a bit of everything: adventure, romance, powerful themes, interesting concepts, wanderlust-y settings, ALL THE THINGS!! ♡ it even made me contemplate life (as in existential crisis), which is rare to see in fantasy novels. i’m just the slightest bit disappointed that our characters were missing that extra oomph since i loved TDM’s character’s so so SO much. all in all, this book is fantastic.
spoiler-filled discussion beginning! please don’t read until you’ve finished the book!!
usually in my discussions i ramble on and on about the characters, but the plot is the star of the show for this one. but seriously…
can we talk about the plot?!
i love love LOVE the time traveling concept. so cool!! how many times am i allowed to repeat that? SO COOL!! my favorite time period they traveled to is probably the first one: london, 1940. i like how it’s in the past for us, but nick seemed so shocked and surprised by how modern everything is. (flying contraptions! um, you mean, airplanes) it was also so beautiful to see etta interact with alice as a teenager. alice is an important character we hardly see (because she’s dead *sad face*) so it was great to see her character portrayed in a different way. i love alice and i wish we saw her more! (but i know that’d be impossible because she’s DEAD) (sorry) which was your favorite time period?
so, um, THAT ENDING. i’m surprised by how fast it went! i wasn’t expecting damascus to be the last location, but i liked how it played out with etta’s family and seeing her mom (!!!!) from the past. (okay, that part was so cool. even though her mom tried to kill her.) then sophia shows up and we find out she went against grandfather’s orders and is trying to take over. (i was hoping sophia would be on their side, but i guess not) THEN etta disappeared. honestly, i was so confused. like WHAT IS GOING ON. i thought she died. but then etta’s mom came back and was like, “etta’s stuck in a wrinkle in time, nick. chill.” it wasn’t as emotionally painful as alex bracken’s other endings so THANK YOU FOR THAT.
how alex bracken’s endings USUALLY feel (it was slightly better this time) (SLIGHTLY)
now onto the characters and relationships
personally, i preferred reading from nicholas’s perspective over etta’s. in general, i felt like etta’s chapters were very plot driven. i still don’t know what to make of her. it’s implied that she has poor social skills because she was always playing her violin, but when we see her conversing with the sailors from the start, everyone is head over heels for her. she doesn’t seem to have a problem there. *suspicious glance* also i can’t tell if she’s impulsive or not. sometimes she feels VERY impulsive and other times it feels like she thinks things through. (another small complaint: i feel like she’s had ‘urges to cry’ way too many times for her tear ducts to handle.. maybe that’s just me) i hope we see her develop more in the next novel. i also hope etta continues to play the violin (after she’s saved from the wrinkle in time – she has to be saved) because i had a lot of respect for her dedication. when she said she was thinking about giving up the violin (and partially for nicholas? don’t throw away your life for a BOY. even though he’s a really spectacular boy…), i was so sad because the violin was her life.
in some ways, it felt like nicholas’s chapters were the subjective ones (FEEEEEELS. so many feels.) while etta’s were the objective ones (PLOT! PLOT! PLOT!). i fell head over heels for his character. he was like a combination of captain thorne from THE LUNAR CHRONICLES and arin from THE WINNER’S TRILOGY. i felt that their relationship escalated a bit tooooo quickly, but i still adored the two together. they’re the cutest. he’s such a tangible and strong character. alexandra bracken did such a good job writing him – especially since he’s from the past and their history/morals are different. i’m surprised and pleased by how smoothly the time differences mended them.
in more ways than one, etta’s relationship with her mom reminded me of clary and jocelyn from cassandra clare’s THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS. mom hides all information about their world to her daughter? check. is held hostage and the daughter is like WHAT’S GOING ON? check. mom loves art and is super epic and smart? check! i didn’t really mind the parallels because their relationship was different, although similar. i hope we explore more into rose’s character in WAYFARER. my thoughts towards her were mostly you’ve-got-some-explaining-to-do and omg-this-is-so-clever since we don’t see her, only glimpses and bread crumbs.