BOOK REVIEW | PASSENGER, ALEXANDRA BRACKEN

Title: Passenger20983362

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Series Number: 1

Publication Date: January 5, 2016 by Disney-Hyperion

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, SciFi

Where I received the book: I got this eARC from publishers through NetGalley (thank you!!).

Star rating: ★★☆☆☆

A summary: 

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

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I was really excited to read this book. The summary sounded so damn cool. In all honesty, I liked the idea of historical fiction (minus all those ridiculous romance/erotica books out there). Did someone mention POC main character??? Sign me up.

The biggest put off for me while reading this book is how utterly boring the first half was. The beginning is an introduction to Nicholas, which I found confusing because I had no idea what was going on or who these people were. Then there’s Etta’s intro, which is pretty much the same. One thing I like about Etta is that she’s a musician. There are so many books where the protag is an artist and references all these famous artists (I don’t get art, y’know?) but I loved how Etta is into music and refers to classical composers (my fave being the amazing Tchaikovsky).

After the brief character introductions, Etta’s pulled from her life in NYC to the 18th century. While here, the rest of this half of the book is a pile of info dumping in the form of 2o Questions. There’s no hook in this book. The only reason I didn’t stop reading is because I had high hopes that maybe it’d get better. (It didn’t)

Due to the weird starting to this book, there’s no proper character development. I mean they’re stuck on a boat for a few weeks where the protagonists interact a few times. I don’t know, I just felt no connection to the characters at this point or the story for that matter. There’s this one scene where Etta acts like your average 21st century teenager, where I actually started to like her a little.

Over the course of the book, there’s no more character development nor is there any depth to these people. The only character I like is Captain Hall. It got to the point where the bad things started happening, and I didn’t care what happened to these characters. Nicholas got so annoying towards the end of the book. Due to romance purposes, he was so damn “protective”. In the few days the main characters have managed to fall madly in love, he hasn’t realised that Etta is a strong, independent woman – she doesn’t need his weird over-protective manliness (I don’t even know what to call it).

This leads me to my next point: the insta-love. In all honesty, I’m not a fan of romance so my opinion here is entirely biased. Some people may like it. Unfortunately, I don’t. Etta and Nicholas were on a boat for a few weeks, where they barely interacted. Somehow they start developing these feelings before the time traveling has even begun. There’s this one scene at approximately 81% which made no sense to the storyline and whatnot. I won’t say what it is because, you know, spoilers. But ugh. Why? You’ve barely known each other a few days (not counting the few weeks where they barely spoke). Stop.

Okay, so one of my favourite things about this book is the history. I love how well researched it is, and how well it’s all presented to the reader (through the time travel). It varied so much too. Like, Etta and Nicholas went to a few places and they were all diverse and globally spread out (they weren’t in 12th century England, then 15th century England. You get the point?).

As much as I loved the American history that was thrown into this book, I’ve read a couple other people’s reviews saying they hated it. This is because they’ve grown up studying all about America in school. But as someone who know’s nearly nothing about the history of America (aside from what I learned from Sleepy Hollow sigh), I rather enjoyed the history lesson.

In short, the first half of this book is one giant info dump and the second half is romance novel to the extreme. These character’s have known each other for a few weeks and suddenly they’re willing to sacrifice themselves for the other??? This isn’t a disney princess movie where they’re getting married the next morning. Or is it?

I wish I’d liked it more to give it a higher star rating, but this book felt like the biggest waste of time. I see potential for the next book, but I don’t feel any rush or need to read it.

BOOK DEPOSITORY | AMAZON

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  • I think this is the first review of Passenger I’ve read that isn’t absolutely glowing. I’m glad I’ve seen this so my expectations aren’t through the roof, though I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it more. You’ve explained your reasons for disliking it so well though! Great review! 😀

    • Personally, I wish there were more varied reviews out there! I felt a little awkward writing this, because there’s few people who feel the same with me. I hope my review didn’t put you off. I’m still going to read the next book. I. Must. Know. What. Happens. Next.

  • This is actually one of the few negative reviews of Passenger I’ve read. Its really well written and I definitely appreciate the time you took to write it. I’m actually curious to see how my experiences relate to yours when I read Passenger..although I am concerned about the romance at the end. I was under impression it would be easier on the romance scale (and therefore a break from the norm)! Loving this review!

    • Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy Passenger more than I did. As I’m not interested in romance (like, at all), I can see how my opinions vary from others. Have fun reading!