Book Review: Passenger

Posted April 21, 2016 by Lyn Kaye in book review, Lyn / 6 Comments

Book Review: PassengerPassenger by Alexandra Bracken
Series: Passenger #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on January 5th 2016
Genres: young adult, fantasy
Pages: 486
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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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.

Passenger – oh how I was looking forward to this book since it was announced. Bracken’s The Darkest Minds series (okay, well, the first book) was a novel I never expected to enjoy. The writing was great and I loved the characters.  Certainly lighting can strike twice, right? But where I expected Pirates of the Caribbean, I got….Dead Man’s Chest. Passenger was a ride that I was ready to get off way before the ride was over.


Etta’s character seemed all over the place. She was shy, and then bold, self aware, and then oblivious, like her character was never able to peg an identity. I really applaud the author for bringing in issues such as gender and racial inequality into the story line, and pointing out how it would make time travel difficult for anyone that wasn’t white and male. That is a wonderful point that has never been really approached in time travel novels. But it seemed to be brushed under the rug as soon as the story started forward.  For all of her issues, I actually liked Sophia more than Etta, because even thought she was rude and rough around the edges, at least she had a personality, and I was able to sympathize with her a lot more. Etta did have a tough life, but she was just written too perfect and too chummy for me to believe that she was real. She just came across as whiny and spoiled, the “Oh, woe is me and my mom never loved me and life is just so UNFAIR to me.” Sophia was disliked and pushed around because she was born a female. Yeah, Sophia was a bitch, but I’m going to identify with the oppressed female more than the pouty little girl who at least knew some comforts in life. Etta just never worked out for me. She was bratty.

Nicolas was awesome, and watching someone trying to make it as a mixed race during a time of turmoil and change in history was fascinating. I’m not sure why the reader had to deal with the insta-love between him and Etta, which weakened his character, but when his point of view came around, the story picked up. His wit and his knowledge of survival and his fascination with the future was refreshing and great.

Despite enjoying him as a character, I highly disliked the romance. I actually skimmed over the vanilla romance scenes that did nothing but bogged down the storyline. It felt like it was just shoved into the plot, and everything came to a screeching halt just to justify the “steamy” romance sections. Even though there is a time limit. Even though Etta’s mother’s life is in danger. No, we have to dedicate some of that time to kissing and such. I pretty much gave up then and there. I’m very sick and tired of a deadline forgotten when it comes to LURVE. Teens are not slaves to romance and hormones. It makes me sick to my stomach to think about the wasted time and the marketing angle. Do all YA books have to have a kissing/hot and heavy scene now to sell? Does dry humping really come first before someone’s life? I mean, it is just her MOM. She got to live her life, and she was just so horrible to Etta. Screw her – adults suck anyways!

The story plot was appeals, and I love the “scavenger hunt” through time throughout the world, but the pacing and the bland characterization just lost me. I skimmed the last 100 pages, because I started to lose interest. Passenger was a miss for me. I’m done with the series – I get really put off by forced romances and characters that try to be everything – strong and awesome, but weak enough to need to be saved and meek enough to be cool with the reader. Making her just BETTER than those “other girls” while pointing out how hard women have had it in history seems to come across as a slap in the face. Even though Sophia’s warnings to stay away from the crew is smart because Etta has no idea what is going on in this timeline, she still has to sneak out to make sure the audience knows she is cool and loved by all.


No. I’m shocked how this is a step back from The Darkest Minds. This book was just all over the place.

Note: Maryam has a second opinion! Check out her review as well!


6 responses to “Book Review: Passenger

  1. *groans* I was really looking forward to The Passenger, Lyn, but I think I’d have the same problems with it as you had. I can’t really get attached with a character who’s all over the place, and it seems that something that could have been a great part of the storyline (the white male only for time travel) didn’t really reach its full potential.
    Great review 🙂
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…STS #131 Bought Borrowed and Bagged #81My Profile

  2. I checked this out from the library the day it came out (I was the first hold). I was so excited and started reading immediately…only to put it aside after about 30 pages. I kept meaning to pick it back up, but had to take it back to the library because it had other holds. I keep thinking I’ll get back to it, but maybe I’ll just pass. I’ve heard from a few people that they were disappointed (and I rarely enjoy books that I feel like I’m forcing myself to read. The books I really enjoy are the ones I can’t put down–which this was definitely not). Oh, well. The cover sure is lovely. Great review!

  3. Great review! I knew this book was too good to be true… :/ Very sad – the cover is absolutely stunning and the premise is pretty interesting. But agree, badly mangled characterizations and pointless romance is not my cup of tea. Hope you find something better soon!

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