Thursday, April 21, 2016

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken - Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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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.


The first thing that came to mind when I heard that Passenger was a book revolving around time travel was that there aren't very many YA books out there that center on time travel. The last book I read that included some was The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, but that was adult fiction. So I was genuinely excited to read my first YA novel with time travel.

This book didn't disappoint-- it was just as action packed and thrilling as many had claimed it would be. It seemed that every page always had something new happening, something to keep you at the edge of your seat (or bed or wherever you read). 

However, I do feel like this book was a bit over-hyped.

When it first came out, it was all that anyone could talk about. Many reviewers and bloggers were praising it up and down. Not to mention that my queen, Sarah J. Maas, blurbed it on the front cover--which only heightened my expectations.

Unfortunately, I don't think this book lived up to the hype. Like I mentioned earlier though, it didn't disappoint, it just frustrated me at times.
The one thing I loved about this book was the diversity in the main characters. The fact that the main male protagonist was an African American was incredible. One of the problems with a lot of YA literature is that the main protagonists are almost always white. Yes, there are colored people, but most of the time they are the best friend or a simple side character. But, in this novel, the love interest--Nicholas--was African American. And that was pretty freaking awesome.

This book, besides being about time travel, also touched on a few serious topics like slavery and racial discrimination, and we the readers get to see how Nicholas experiences this abuse first hand--and how it affects him emotionally along with the choices he makes.

My biggest discomfort with this novel was the narration. I love third person narration. But in Passenger it just didn't work for me. The third person point of view seemed off, which caused me to feel disconnected from the protagonists. I just couldn't get as close to them as I'd hoped to, especially Etta.

The beauty of third person narration is that it allows the author to go much more in depth with their descriptions and imagery, but the writing just got way to purple in this novel. It seemed as if every other sentence was a metaphor, and by the end of the book, I felt completely drained after reading through 500 pages of flowery writing.

The element of time travel was wonderfully introduced in the beginning. When Etta was first thrust into this whole world of time travel, both Etta and the reader didn't know what's going on or what's going to happen--which helped propel the plot forward into a story of discovery and adventure and love. 

Bracken did a great job at explaining the rules of time travel as the story slowly unraveled--it was creative and an entirely new concept that I found to be captivating and innovative.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that I will pick up the next book. I liked this book, but I don't think the plot line was strong enough to keep me utterly hooked. Would I recommend it? Well, that all depends if you don't mind purple writing, along with a lot of YA tropes. 

My rating: 3.5/5 STARS

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