Review: Passenger

Author: Alexandra Bracken
Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction/Time Travel
Page Length: 464 Pages
Publication Date: January 5th, 2015
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Source: ARC via Big Honcho Media
Goodreads | Amazon
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
I'm a huge fan of Bracken's first series, The Darkest Minds, so I was stoked to hear she was writing a second series. Passenger highlights all of Bracken's strong suits: strong characters, extensive history research, character-driven plot, and shippable romance and keeps readers guessing until the very end.

Violin prodigy, Etta Spencer, accidentally uncovers the secret society of time travelers and is thrust into a dangerous hunt to retrieve a powerful object that could change the world for the worst if fallen into the wrong hands. The most exciting part about this hunt is that it take places in various countries in various time periods. I commend Bracken for making Passenger such a thrilling on-the-run story. The research was spot-on and and the details were impeccable. I loved all the descriptions of the time periods and the settings. I always have major fangirl moments when authors incorporate historical facts into their stories.

Etta is such a strong-willed and feisty person. I love her fearlessness and her whip-smart mind. As she follows her mother's cryptic clues from place to place to find the hidden object, Etta is thrust into harrowing situations which really help build her character and growth. But she's not on this journey alone. Enter, Nicholas Carter, a freed slave-turned privateer in the late 1700s. I think I enjoyed his character a bit more than Etta because he was such an interesting and multifaceted person. Both Etta and Nick have such strong personalities that really shine through. I am pleased to see a bit of diversity in the main cast of characters and secondly I am proud to see a biracial romance represented in this story! I love the development and the slow-burn of this one. Definitely a top power couple of the year. Overall though, I love their honesty and their courage to speak their minds (and hearts) no matter what.

Bracken's writing is so eloquent and highly descriptive. Her plotting was brilliant and never too predictable. I was hooked from the beginning (haha no pun intended...) and engaged throughout, although I did feel there was a slight pacing problem in the middle. Sometimes in the frantic action sequences I got a bit confused as to what was going on. A lot of this book is clue-solving and running, but I wish the plot could have slowed down a bit for the characters (and us readers) to explore the time periods.

Time traveling is incredibly easy for an author to mess up and quite difficult for an author to do well. Thankfully Bracken's execution and extensive attention to detail in regards to time travel were both perfect. I love how she explained time travel, made it her own (a bit different), and kept it relatively simple for us to comprehend. At times though it was a bit hard to keep up with the explanation of repercussions of all the bad things that would happen if the object fell into the wrong hands. This reminds me of Interstellar or Inception at times where the plot just went a little over my head at times... But that's a me problem!

I was a bit disappointed that not much of this book takes place on ships, especially since the cover of the book has a ship on it. That along with some minor pacing and plot issues made me shave a star off. Overall this book is historically action-packed and lots of fun! I'd definitely recommend this book to Bracken fans.
Rachel is a teenaged unapologetic fangirl and perfectionist.

She loves reading for the escape it gives from reality and enjoys crying over books, swooning over characters, and laughing out loud over funny lines. She is a semi-recovering Netflix addict and a middle child of three.

You can find her on Twitter @yaperfectionist & Goodreads.


  1. This is one of my most anticipated reads of 2016, so I am so glad to hear you liked it so much Rachel! It's a shame that the pacing was a bit uneven at times, but other then that it sounds absolutely amazing. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ♥

  2. I am really excited for this one! I don't think I realized it was almost 500 pages too. But YAY for liking it! Its frustrating to see about the pacing and how it got confusing at times. Sometimes I don't like books with a lot of action because it can get confusing. I am going to have to preorder this one though, it seems like something I would like. Great review!

    Amber | The Book Bratz

  3. OOh nice! I plan to read this one after my current read! I couldn't get interested enough in her first series but I've always been fascinated with time traveling books! So I'm hoping the mechanics of that in this one won't be too overwhelming, cause like you said, a lot of the time those details just fly over my head! LOL! Glad to hear you enjoyed this one for the most part! Especially since I had another blogger tell me they DNF'd it, which kind of had me hesitant for a bit! Oh well! I want to read it anyway! Great review!

  4. Fantastic review, Rach! I'm super excited for Passenger (I can't believe it comes out in 4 days!) so I'm so happy you enjoyed it! A ton of people seem to like it so far, but I hold your opinion in high regard because 1) I've known you for much longer than any other bloggers :P and 2) you generally have good taste in books :D Anyway, Passenger sounds like an amazing book, so I'm looking forward to picking it up!

  5. Sounds fab! I've heard a lot about this, but haven't actually considered buying it yet. I love everything time travel and everyone seems to love Alexandra Brakcen, so maybe it's time to hop on the band waggon.

    - Jen from The Bookavid

  6. I'm so excited for this one, I never read anything by Bracken and I think this one will be so my kind of story with pirates and time travel and adventure. Glad you enjoyed it!

    Deyse @ Bound with Words

  7. Time travel is a hit or miss for me and with this looking to be the new trend in YA for 2016 I'm very interested to see how they maneuver themselves around the topic. Passenger has been one of my most anticipated books of the year and the hype surrounding it is insane. Part of me is nervous that my expectations are too high but I'm also very hopeful in that the hype is worth it. Great review. :D

  8. I love this cover! I would have thought that a ship would come into play in the book because of its presence on the cover. Glad to hear the time travel is well done. Thanks for sharing. :)

  9. Oh yay, I am glad you liked it! I started it awhile back, and then got a little bored, but I think the problem was mostly me. Now I kind of wonder if I should just wait for it to be published, because I have heard that so many things have changed so... yeah, I have no idea what to do. But I am so glad that the time travel was done well (sometimes it leaves me SO confused, or on the other end, rolling my eyes) and that her trademark amazing characters are present! Fabulous review :)

  10. I've heard such amazing things about this book and I really want to read it, especially as I haven't read many time-travel books and I'd like to change that. Lovely review!

  11. I am SO GLAD you loved this one! I have never read Bracken before, but this premise made it one of my most highly anticipated reads of 2016. I can't wait!

  12. I'm glad you liked it! I didn't end up liking it as much as I thought I would, because I thought it would be a completely different story (then again it was a BEA ARC so who knows what changed!). But I think it was all just a "me" thing as well, because like you said, the writing is gorgeous, and even when some things were confusing, overall the story was really well done. I LOVED that Etta played the violin :)

  13. Lovely review, girl! Time travel is up and down for me, so I'm glad to hear that you liked that aspect so much. It's okay if it gets a little confusing, I just hate it when it's too unoriginal.
    Very excited to meet these characters. Crossing my fingers I'm going to swoon. :D

  14. I certainly enjoyed PASSENGER! (That's actually an understatement. I LOVED IT.) I really admire Alex's take on time travel, as I thought it was both clever and easy to understand. And I fell hard for Etta and Nicholas as characters! I really think they're both such admirable individuals, and I would like more of their story ;)


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