Written by: Alexandra Bracken
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Release date: January 5th 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Buy: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
Add on: Goodreads
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.
If there are two things (well, technically three) whose combination can get me immediately interested in a book, they’re time travel and ships — both the nautical and relationship kind. 😉 So if you’re like me, and you think Passenger‘s synopsis sounds like something up your alley… you definitely need to pick up this book.
Beyond ships and time travel, though, what I need in a book is great characters, and I loved the characters in Passenger — they’re so believable, and so easy to relate to and empathize with. Etta, a violin prodigy, is whisked back in time against her will, and is told she has to find a certain powerful artifact . . . or else. Nicholas wants nothing more than a life at sea and freedom from his ‘family’, but he gets pulled into Etta’s search regardless. The two of them form an immediate bond, and their relationship makes perfect sense, despite their different home-time-periods. Nicholas’s upbringing has shaped him in a way that he doesn’t see Etta’s ‘futuristic’ sensibilities as odd or sensational, but as admirable and right, which I adored. The two of them have a lot in common personality-wise, and their attraction, while quick, made complete sense. And not only that, but hello chemistry. 😍 The two of them have a fantastic connection, and I loved them together.
Passenger‘s pacing was quick and twisty and exciting, and the plot was a whole lot of fun, despite dealing with some more serious topics (which I’ll mention below). Time travel is one of my favorite things, and I thought Passenger utilized it really well. The plot carried on like a timey-wimey scavenger hunt, which I had my reservations about… It could’ve turned into a go here, figure out clue, repeat pattern, but Bracken’s engaging characters and their journey through different time periods, each painted so vividly, made this book completely unputdownable. I had no problem flying through its pages.
Etta’s and Nicholas’s partnership, and the bounce-to-different-time-periods nature of the plot, also made it necessary to explore what it was like for women and people of color in these different time periods. Wherever and whenever they go, Etta and Nicholas always have to be aware of what would stick out as anachronistic in their behavior. Bracken doesn’t shy away from the realities of the different times, and it was really eye-opening and (rightly) sometimes upsetting to see some of the attitudes of the past portrayed. Major props to Bracken for dealing with these important topics.
Passenger is a fantastic start to this series! Super solid, super fun, majorly swoony — pretty much exactly what I wanted it to be. In true Alex Bracken fashion, it does end on a bit of a cliffhanger (or at least a “no why would you end it there?!?!” moment), but that’s no reason to wait to pick this up. If you’re a fan of time travel and romance, you really cannot miss this one.
And as an extra incentive — I usually don’t care one way or the other about book trailers, but this one is so understated and lovely and just yes. So here, have a trailer: