BOOK REVIEW: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken


“This was the danger, the seduction of time travel, she realized—it was the opportunity, the freedom of a thousand possibilities of where to live and how to start over. It was the beauty open to you in your life if you only stopped for a moment to look.”


Synopsis: Violin prodigy, Etta Spencer, loses everything she knows as she is carried across time, to a world not only miles, but years from her home. She discovers an inherited ability and legacy, which bring her into the clutches of the Ironwoods; a dangerous family who are searching for a stolen object. An object only Etta can find.

Nicholas Carter’s life at sea is one of freedom and escape from servitude. And he is reasonably content with his life. Until an unusual passenger arrives on his ship. He is pulled to her, as well as to a past he does not want to confront.

Together they set out to find the object the Ironwoods desire. But the closer they get to finding it, and the the more answers they discover, the more dangerous the truth becomes. 

I had so much fun reading this book!

Passenger is a slow-paced, gradual-build-up kind of book, and it completely works with the story. I really appreciated a YA that took its time with description, character development and world-building. There is no rushing this story, and Alexandra Bracken writes so beautifully that I did not want to speed it up! It really was a beautiful story. And despite the few issues I had with the book, I can’t dismiss just how beautiful it was. Let me break it down…

I loved the historical elements to this story (being a history student, I obviously love books with some epic time-travel), and I loved how historical issues of race and gender were distinctly woven into the story. Following Etta, brought up in the modern day, and seeing the racial prejudice from her perspective was just as (if not more) heart-breaking as reading it from Nicholas’ perspective, who is experiencing it first hand. By giving us both perspectives and narratives: past and present, the book really does well in giving the reader an emotional connection to the events and topics brought up.

As for the dual-narrative of the book, I thought it was done very well. I’m usually not a big fan of multiple perspectives (apart from epic/high fantasy where its almost inescapable!) but Passenger manages to keep both characters interesting and intriguing. This may be, in part, because for the majority of the book, the two characters are together, and so we are seeing the same events and experiences from two perspectives together, which really brought another dimension to the reading experience. It’s just a beautifully structured and woven story.

However, I did still have a few issues. I really struggled to grasp how the time-travel practically worked. There was very little description of how or why it worked, which my logical mind did not appreciate! I’m hoping that perhaps book two will solve this problem, and get more into the details and intricacies of the practical workings of the travel, while this book remains a focused introduction to the characters and the setting up of the world and story.

And despite my love for the story and the characters, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of a disconnect to it all. Perhaps it was because of the lack of practicalities explained, or perhaps it was because both of the characters were reasonably closed books, but I felt as though I was watching the story unfold from a distance, rather than being fully immersed in it.

That said, it was a very enjoyable and beautiful read, and a much appreciated break from the volumes of fast-paced YA I have recently been reading. I cannot wait for book two, and am very intrigued to see where this story is going to go, after that very *shocked face* ending!


3 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

  1. I’m dying to read ‘Passenger’! Thanks for outlining some of the negative points as well as the things you liked – I’ve only heard good, gushy things so far, and I was worried that it would quickly become over-hyped. When there’s only ever a positive approach, it’s easy to be disappointed. Love your review 🙂 x

    (Also, now I’m dying to know what happens at the end…)

    Liked by 1 person

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