Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

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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


Initial thoughts: While dense and a bit slow at times, Bracken still manages to tell a compelling and imaginative story with time travel, conspiracies, betrayal and love. I definitely recommend for those interested in time travel books.

This book has been sitting on my kindle for months and I’ve honestly put off reading it because of the reviews that said this book was slow and tedious. I love the feeling of being obsessively glued to my book, oblivious to my surroundings. And you know what? It was slow and a bit dense at times, and it did take me a few days longer to get through than normal. But, it was still good and I plan on reading Wayfarer because I want to know how the story ends. 

Etta Spencer is a young violin prodigy living in New York with her mother. Etta and her mother seem to have somewhat of an estranged relationship, mostly that they never seem to quite understand each other. On the night Etta is supposed to make her debut as a violinist, she is swept away to another place and another time. Etta is drawn into  the agenda of an established time-traveling family and she learns of secrets that her mother has been hiding from her for her entire life. 

We meet Nicholas Carter aboard a ship in a different century. He has ties to the Ironwood family and must help Etta accomplish her mission in order to finally free himself from the Ironwood family. He must help Etta bring back a mysterious magical object, even if it means betraying her.  

I really enjoyed the time travel aspect of this book. We were able to see so many different places and centuries- Paris, New York, Cambodia. I personally love books like this with unknown settings because I have no idea where the characters will end up next. This is also why I loved A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray.

As you can probably tell from the synopsis, between the scheming and looming betrayals, Etta and Nicholas fall in love. Their relationship was handled nicely and I enjoyed their dialogue. I didn’t love them, mostly because the third-person point of view made me feel more distant from the characters. Another interesting aspect of their relationship was that Nicholas is black. While this may not change the way 20th century Etta thinks of their relationship, the topic certainly comes up for Nicholas who was born hundreds of years earlier. I thought it was so interested to see how this was explored in their relationship and they had some very touching moments. 

While there were some truly exciting and imaginative aspects to this story, I often felt like I had to skip paragraphs at a time to skim over the unnecessary details to get to the meat of the story. But still, I did it and it was worth it. The last 15-20% of the book really picks up in action and left me wanting to know how Etta and Nicholas’ story ends. Overall, a good story and I definitely want the second but I wish it wasn’t quite so dense and that I felt more connected to the characters. 

3.5/5★

Have you read Passenger? What do you think?

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10 thoughts on “Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken”

    1. It was definitely in interesting approach on time travel and I don’t read many books about that subject so for that, it was worth it. HOWEVER, I have less and less patience these days when it comes to books that just don’t hold my attention and it did take me a bit longer to get through this book because of that 😬

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  1. Nicely written review. I’m with you, Alex. I need a book to move. Slow and tedious may have worked for me in the past, but like most people I believe, I need to feel that the story is going somewhere.
    If it meanders, I’m closing it. There are just too many other books out there to read.

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  2. BTW: I have a new book out. ‘Alina’
    It’s a fantasy / adventure I wrote for Young-Adult readers but has been quite well-received by adult-adult ones.
    It’s fun, imaginative, by no means tedious, and has a wonderful message. (World Peace through Poetry, Music, Wisdom and Education.
    Would you like to read and review it?
    email me at temarkauthor@gmail.com
    Have a great weekend

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