Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Synopsis: This journey is only the beginning…
In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Pulled back through time to 1776 in the midst of a fierce sea battle, she has travelled not only miles, but years from home.
With the arrival of this unusual passenger on his ship, privateer Nicholas Carter has to confront a past that he can’t escape and the powerful Ironwood family who won’t let him go without a fight. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value; one they believe only Etta can find.
Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by an enigmatic traveller. 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 from Nicholas, and her way home, forever.
Review: Passenger is one of the biggest YA releases of 2016. Although I am not the biggest fan of time-travelling stories, I know that I was ridiculously excited for its release, after all, it is written by Alexandra Bracken who gave us the wonderful The Darkest Minds series, it promised us mystery, ships, deceit, longing, adventure, pirates and time-travel. And well… just look at that gorgeous cover!!!! Who wouldn’t be excited about this book?
But sadly, I didn’t enjoy Passenger as much as I thought I would :(
Passenger starts by throwing us, and Etta, into a whole new world, filled with confusion, ships and a burning desire to find out what just happened. After a fast-paced but yet devastating event on what should have been a night of huge accomplishment for Etta, she finds herself thrown into a whole new world – where she knows no one or nothing, except for the fact that she is travelling with an over-bearing stranger and she is on a ship, nowhere near anything or anyone she knows or loves.
And here is when the story slows down. Sure, I know that story cannot continue at a fast pace, as our protagonist is in a new world and we must learn along with her what is happening… but it was slooooooowwwwwwww.
We learn about the Ironwoods, a darkly powerful family, who have basically kidnapped Etta. We learn about Nicholas Carter, the boy who seems to be both protector and villain, and we learn about Etta’s role in finding a mysterious object that it seems the Ironwoods will do anything to recover.
But we find out all of this very slowly.
For me, it was just too slow. We had a fast, quick and confusing beginning – but I can forgive the confusing part as we are going on this adventure with Etta, and wow is this girl in one confusing situation! But then it slowed down to bring in the world and character building, but for me, it either dragged a little too much, or there wasn’t enough of the actual building to fill in the pages.
Although I felt that a majority of the story was slow, there was still a lot to enjoy. The conformities of the eras and the characters was something that I really liked in Passenger – the customs of different regions across the globe, the various conventionalisms across different eras and social status’ – it was extremely well written, and I found myself absorbed in this aspect of the story.
For me, it was the relationship between Nicholas and Etta that pulled the story along. Besides the inner-turmoil Nicholas faces by his growing feelings for Etta, this relationship is interesting and wrought with peril, and I ship it hard (pardon the pun)!. It was a fantastic collision of eras, 21st century girl and a 1920s boy, who is not only a pirate, but a boy of colour. I LOVE IT! The obstacles he has, and has yet to, overcome are astounding, and for a modem girl who takes freedom and equality for granted to experience this first hand is enlightening. It was interesting to see the reactions of characters when you take them outside their era and what they accept as normal, when you remove social and political barriers that confine or free them. And even though I loved Etta’s 21st century mindset, it really is Nicholas’ story that I enjoyed: his determination and his heart-break, his acceptance, but yet so much hope.
When it comes to the history and the settings, I cannot fault the descriptions, mannerisms and etiquette. Everything from the way a person spoke, the cultural norms and to peoples reactions were perfect! And the location settings were described beautifully. The romance was slow-burning and held the right amount of hesitance considering the situation, and is written in a perfect way. The world-building certainly is what kept this book interesting while the storyline dragged along a little. Also, I actually enjoyed the time-travel aspect. I don’t pretend to be any form of expert when it comes to time-travel, but to me it was written well, not overbearing in the way it works, but not too confusing either.
Towards the end of the book, the story really picks up, and it accelerates quickly! Passenger starts with a bang and ends with an even bigger one. And much like Etta being thrown into this unknown world, the ending of Passenger has twists that will leave you with a lot of questions. The ending is a cliff-hanger that makes you forget that you found issues with pacing; it makes you want to pick Wayfarer and find out more about this mysterious and unpredictable world.