Passenger Review

Hello! Many of you have probably heard someone in the book blogging or booktubing circuit talk about Alexandra Bracken’s new novel Passenger. Everyone is raving about, praising it as another one of Bracken’s great books, but are these praises earned?

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 –goodreads.com summary

Passenger was a solid and mostly well put together novel. The only place the novel falls apart is with its pacing. It is very odd and ends up having large time jumps in the beginning making the first act feel longer than necessary, then seemingly crams the climax into the very end— this makes the overall narrative feel unproportioned and not flowy. I feel this is the reason many people are saying the novel is hard to get into or slow. To anyone that is having trouble getting through the first act Passenger, know that it does pick up and the second and third act are much easier to get through. The reason I did not have trouble getting through the first act is because I was intrigued by these characters (especially Nicholas) and I enjoyed seeing them interact, so while there might not have been a lot of plot for those pages there was character development.

Where Passenger does shine through is in its characters. The simplistic plot of ‘get to the place and grab the thing’ allows Bracken to focus on these characters more than she could if she had to spend time developing a largely complex, full of twists and turns type of plot. Of course this is not to say the plot is boring— it is just not the most memorable thing about Passenger. When I am making my best of 2016 list a year from now, Passenger will come to mind due to its developed characters each with their own motivation rather than its standard ‘grab the macguffin before the deadline’ plot. And yes I’m counting the astrolabe as a macguffin because it was a random device that the plot centered on that the main characters had to find before it fell into the wrong hands or else, WORLD DOOM! How many other books have that same plot? And in the end, it was the characters that got the focus, not the astrolabe, and I had to look up the name of the thing for this review so if that doesn’t prove that it isn’t important I don’t know what does.

Overall, I enjoyed Passenger and could possibly see myself rereading it in the future. Aside from the pacing issues, the strong characters really set the novel apart from other Young Adult novels on the shelf at the moment! I recommend Passenger for fans of Alexandra Bracken, time travel, SCI-FI, and really anyone!

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Meagan!

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