Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Review: Passenger by Alexandra BrackenPassenger by Alexandra Bracken
Amazon|The Book Depository
Pages: 496
Series: Passenger #1
on January 5, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

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.
Alternate cover for this ISBN can be found here

I fully went into this book thinking it would be another disappointing YA novel about time-travel. I’m thrilled to report on just how wrong I was. I loved Bracken’s Lore both for its writing and characters, and Passenger joins that list. 

Plot & Storytelling | Again, I did not expect to love this book but the plot and storytelling are excellent here. The story sets a pace and delivers with each location change. The plot is a bit predictable – bad guy forces young girl to search for secret artifact, mother hides past from girl, girl manages to find love along the way – but the characters are strong enough that the predictability takes a back seat and I was able to enjoy the story nonetheless. The twist/cliffhanger at the end I did not see coming (and as I type this currently reading the sequel, Wayfarer)! 

Writing & World Building | Bracken did an excellent job at building upon a world we already know and using the basic principles of time travel to keep us readers interested and with the ability to understand something as complex as time travel. The key for me is if the rules of travel make sense and are still relatively easy to follow as the story/circumstances become more complex. 

Characters & Relationships | Etta Spencer is a likable character. A violin prodigy who knows nothing of her family’s gifts, is thrust into a do or die situation. Nicholas is trying to escape the Ironwoods and make his own way a world that is deeply prejudice against him. We spend the most time with Etta and Nicholas, and their journey’s for self-fulfillment are parallel. The love story is a bit predictable, but happens late enough that as individuals they experience growth. 

The additional characters (Annie, Rose, Sophia, etc) are well established and foils to Etta and Nicholas. In attempting not to spoil things any further, the villain is well done. I enjoy stories most when the bad guys are not all bad and Ironwood is definitely one of those. With just enough ruthlessness to not make me feel totally bad for him. 

Overall | Enjoyable and fun read involving easy to follow time travel with likable lead characters (and an African American main character/love interest!). The action helps move the story along while also exploring different types of relationships throughout time. 

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