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Passenger Hardcover – January 5, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—This series opener doesn't let up its high-octane pace until the final page. In a matter of moments, Etta, a talented teenage violinist in New York City, goes from making her concert soloist debut to finding herself prisoner aboard a ship in the distant past. It turns out she is descended from one of a dwindling number of time-traveling families who manipulate history in an ongoing fight for power and influence. The captain of the ship, Nicholas Carter, was hired to retrieve Etta and bring her to the head of the most powerful family. Together they must travel across the globe and through different time periods in search of the long missing astrolabe. There are plenty of twists and turns and excitement as they travel—though at almost 500 pages, the story has periods where it drags, and complex plot machinations and world-building threaten to overwhelm the narrative. Luckily, the romance crackling between Nicholas and Etta will keep fans intrigued. VERDICT This strong new series will appeal to readers looking for a time-traveling adventure with plenty of drama and romance.—Eliza Langhans, Hatfield Public Library, MA
"Passenger grabs you by the heart from its opening notes and doesn't let go until its knockout, blockbuster finale." - SARAH J. MAAS, New York Times best-selling author of the Throne of Glass series
"[A] rousing series opener... Bracken's saga is sweeping." - Publishers Weekly
"[Passenger] doesn't let up its high-octane pace until the final page..." - School Library Journal
"... this time-traveling adventure is rich in detail [and] the slowburning relationship between Etta and Nicholas will leave many readers breathless..." - Booklist
Top customer reviews
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I love that this novel doesn't shy away from the dirtier parts of history - how utterly prejudiced people were towards people of color. In this case, we get to see through the eyes of a modern twenty-first century girl, Etta, falling for an African-American boy, Nicholas. Their love for one another is one that is separated by time and is devastatingly doomed because of it in this novel.
The story is beautifully written and I love that the characters voices are unique between the two leads. Passenger is a fantastic novel for those who love to travel, or dream of traveling, and those who love reading about historical moments in time added into the mix of an intricately woven story.
I saw reviews ranging from "asdfghjkl Passenger" to "hmm, Passenger is a delight, but it COULD be better" I just KNEW I had to have it, so I did.
Henrietta "Etta" Spencer, a pretty blonde violinist, is awaiting her big break. As she practices multiple hours per day, shunning any idea of a social life, she assumes a career in music is in the cards, so when she's finally allowed onstage for a grand solo performance, she freezes, ruining her chance after claiming to hear something crash in the crowd. But when a girl named Sophia claims to hear it as well, she drags them off and, before Etta knows it, they've been transported to 1776 and are placed nicely on a pirate ship.
Yeah, so I really didn't understand this novel. At all. I've (sort-of kind of not really) been getting into the whole time travel schtick.
The crew is a delight. I was infatuated with Nicholas from the start, but he became clingy. (We'll get to it.) Jack and The Captain are adorable, too. I wish we were able to see more of them. Platoons of characters were just brushed by.
I really do Nicholas and I feel the need to say that again because Etta was as interesting as drywall. Nicholas was so warm. He was so caring, and he followed Etta around so willingly and without question. He seemed to really care about his brother, too. Something that annoyed me. Everyone was blaming him for his brother's death and Etta, who thinks she's so feminist and cool, defends Nicholas religiously. But when people blamed Nicholas for his brother's death, she just sat there, all quiet. Why aren't you popping off, Etta??? And why aren't YOU manning up, Nick???)
This reminds me of Reign of Shadows. There was honestly no point in their journey. It was romance through time-travel. Each chapter, they were somewhere else. It reminds me of that Calvin Harris song, "How Deep Is Your Love." Ever see the music video? Gigi Hadid touches her hair and teleports from yachts to underground clubs to pool parties. Sensational, and more interesting than this book, honestly.
Also, Etta was such a little attention-seeker and Nicholas was always all over her for it: "Does your leg hurt? Do you need water? Do you need me to carry you?" And Etta would buy into his BS and be collapsing all on him. Like, STOP IT. And they were already talking about marriage. How old are y'all again?
Alexandra Bracken writes gorgeously, but this book is unnecessarily long, and I knew I had a problem when the cliffhanger didn't even affect me. Definitely a pass.
Passenger is a time-traveling love story. That is about all I can say to describe it. It follows two points of view, Etta and Nicholas, and develops into a time traveling epic adventure of love, loss, danger, and excitement.
As to be expected with anything written by Alexander Bracken, my mind is a mess of emotions. She has the power to create a world that makes you feel like you are living in it. And this one is insane! She writes beautiful words and creates atmospheres that are so real you can reach out and touch them. One of the downfalls of this book is the pacing, especially at the beginning. It is hard to get into it, for well over 150 pages. I know that does sound like a lot but don’t get me wrong there is some exciting things that happen in those pages but the connection to the story is a bit lacking. However, once you power through it you will become so deeply involved in the story you will forget you struggled at the beginning.
The great thing about this story is that we get to live through history. The research that Bracken must have completed to create such a rich historical setting must have been insane. This book takes us through 1776 New York to 1940 London to 14th century Damascus. Her attention to detail is impeccable. She relates everything to the time from dress to food to setting to cultural standards. The thing that makes this so much more real and exciting is that Nicholas is from 1776 while Etta is from New York City, present day. By having this story told in two POV we can see just where cultural differences occur and how much etiquette and customs have changed. When you then place these two characters in different time periods than what they grew up in, it is just mind blowing. Again, that attention to detail that Bracken maintains throughout the novel makes everything that much more relatable and realistic.
The two main characters are well written and likable. Etta is introduced to a world she knows nothing about. Her mother kept her from the world of time travel and Etta must learn to adapt quickly in order to survive. She is a strong character who fights for herself and the lives of those she loves. She has a subtle fierceness to her that makes her overcome obstacles and decisions in the most clever ways. Nicholas is a sailor, he loves the water, and he swore off time traveling ever again after losing his half brother. His life becomes intertwined with Etta’s and he breaks his ban on time traveling in order to protect Etta, whom he has developed a connection with. Do not worry, there is no insta-love!! Although it is clear that these two will be love interests from the get-go it is in no way instant. The way there relationship grows is organic and beautiful. They learn to adapt to each other despite the hundreds of years of cultural differences. I should probably mention that Nicholas is African-American, the bastard child of a slave and a rich man. This obviously adds even more depth to the story. And it works. It is still very uncommon to see a main character of a different race in YA novels. I think with this book if Nicholas was white the story would not have worked. It would have taken away so much. That small detail gives so much to this story. It gives this novel so many more beautiful moments. (Like the dancing scene in London and the part on page 427, oh god the feels at that part.)
There are other secondary characters that fuel this story along. Cyrus Ironwood, the villian, is so evil and conniving. He is written so well, that it is easy to hate him but he has enough background to almost understand where is drive for power comes from. Sophia is a character I am excited to see more of. She is a bit conniving like her grandfather Cyrus Ironwood but there is something buried deep inside her waiting to be unleashed and I bet you good money it will flourish in the next book. Hasan is a character we meet in Damascus, an uncle of Etta. He has a minor role but his character is nurturing and well likable. I hope we get to see more of him as well. Etta’s mother Rose is only spoken of and doesn’t have a major physical presence in the novel but is kind of the reason everything in this book is happening. Her story is weaved into backstories and secrets and it is almost like she is present. The other minor character is Alice. The only thing I am going to say about her is just how well Bracken introduces her and connects her to another part in the story. Let’s just say it was a bit emotional.
Now what you have been questioning and wondering…Is there a cliffhanger? OF COURSE THERE IS A CLIFFHANGER! I MEAN THIS IS A BOOK BY ALEXANDRA BRACKEN AND I DON’T THINK SHE KNOWS HOW TO END A BOOK WITHOUT ONE! So ughhhh, yes a rather huge cliffhanger and now all I want is the next book, Wayfarer. (Breathe Vicki, relax, you can survive, there are so many books coming out this year. January 2017 will be here before you know it. <–That’s what I have been telling myself over and over again for the last 17 hours.)
Bracken has written a compelling story that allows you to travel across time and live all the lives you wish you could have experienced without ever leaving your couch and the comfort of living in a time where you are used to your amenities. I cannot wait for the next book to come out and enrich me even further into the depths of history and maybe even possibly the future!