After hearing so much about this book and the hype surrounding the release of the sequel, I picked this book up early in the year and it ended up at the top of my TBR list. When I heard time travel I knew I just had to read this book!
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Date published: October 6th 2016
Page Count: 486
This journey is only the beginning…
In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Pulled back through time to 1776 in the midst of a fierce sea battle, she has travelled not only miles, but years from home.
With the arrival of this unusual passenger on his ship, privateer Nicholas Carter has to confront a past that he can’t escape and the powerful Ironwood family who won’t let him go without a fight. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value; one they believe only Etta can find.
Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by an enigmatic traveller. 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 from Nicholas, and her way home, forever.
Passenger has a really interesting premise and story with a unique take on time travel and the time traveller community. With a little bit of action, this book came to life with the romance between the main character Etta and the unlikely hero Nicholas. While the ending was anticlimactic, overall Passenger is a romantic YA time travel with action and history woven into the story.
What makes Passenger unique and different from other time travel books is the unique way in which time travel ‘happens’ in this universe. Travellers, as they are called’ have a affinity to be able to travel through ‘rifts‘ that lead to certain places and a specific year. Instead of being able to directly control when or where a person time travels too, they rely on their knowledge of the location of these rifts to move between time. A very inefficient system of time travel, though it makes for an interesting dynamic to the story as Etta and Nicholas have to navigate with little to no knowledge of where to find the next rift. With every time travel story comes the problems of paradoxes. Passenger deals with them is a clever way, where as opposed to fading out of existence when something major changes in your timeline, instead you are transported to the point in time that is most similar in the changed time line to the original one.
The story focus on Etta, a prodigal violinist thrown into the war between two Traveller communities, and Nicholas, a 16th century ‘ex-traveller’ who is tasked to help Etta find the Astrolobe-a device which many believe can open new rifts and allow better control over travelling. I enjoy reading a good scavenger hunt story, and Passenger delivers, with Etta and Nic following clues and riddles while travelling through history to find the Astrolobe. The only downfall of the story is the anti-climactic ending. The final conflict and revelations felt lacking when compared to the wonderfully written remainder of the book. The cliffhanger that is supposed to create tension and suspense for the sequel was rushed and did not have the impact that I was expecting.
The romance between Etta and Nic is what makes this book a pleasure to read- and that is coming from a person who is very selective on what romance stories she reads and enjoys. Their relationship feels like a slow build, even though part of the book takes place over only a couple days. Every interaction they have is meaningful and their discussions so emotional and genuine. Their relationship also opens the door to the exploration of gender and race as Nicholas is not only African American and faces discrimination in many forms over multiple time periods but Etta is a women in times where relationships between people of different races was strictly taboo and where women had little to no autonomy.
Passenger was more of a romance book for me then i was anticipating, but this by no means dampened by enjoyment of the story. With time travel and interesting commentary on racial and gender discrimination throughout history, Alexandra Bracken writes an enjoying read that I finished quickly. While the ending is a set up for the sequel Wayfayer, it lacked tension and closure for this book to stand alone successfully.