Review – Passenger


Title: Passenger
Series: Passenger, #1
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publication: January 5th 2016 by Disney-Hyperion
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Time Travel
Pages: 486 pages
Format: Library book
Rating: 4/5

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

Shelf it on Goodreads


So here’s the alphabetical run down:


It took me a while to get into the characters in this book, but after almost 500 pages of getting to know them, I can say that I really loved them.  When the book begins and Etta is still in present day New York as a violin prodigy, I really had trouble loving or even liking her character at first. The entire first section of the book, almost 50 pages, was difficult for me to get a sense of who the characters were. I felt the detachment between Etta and her mother Rose, and how much Etta adored her violin instructor Alice, but I didn’t feel like I had any connection to any of the characters. That being said, if you’ve started this book and you feel this way, give it time, they will grow on you.

Eventually Etta becomes this brave, adventurous, bold female character. The author uses Etta’s perspective to bring up gender roles and racial injustices through the lenses of a character from current day traveling back in time. Although I know that even currently, our society has a long way to go where both are concerned, Etta’s outrage at the way women and people of color are treated made me respect her character even more.

Nicholas is definitely a complex character, but for good reason. Bracken has really woven together one of the more complicated stories I’ve ever read. Although Nicholas holds a lot of his emotions inside, even going so far as to wipe his face clean of emotion and reaction to things, I enjoyed getting to know him through Etta’s perspective. By the end of the book I really did love his character and feel like he was really well developed.

There are so many secondary characters it is almost overwhelming at times trying to keep all of their stories and timelines straight. The idea of who the “enemy” really is in the story is a moving target, which makes it very interesting.


The cover of this book is absolutely stunning. The New York skyline inside the bottle with the reflection of the ship in the bottle fits the book perfectly. The gray-blue color scheme and the sliver for the title are beautiful together.


There is a romance in the book, but it is secondary to the main storyline.  I love that the characters seem to actually respect one another for reasons other than their physical appearances. I’m not saying that they weren’t initially physically attracted to one another, but the romance feels like it grew out of a genuine respect for the who the other person is.


This book is what I would call a “long read,” but that has less to do with the number of pages it has and more to do with the sentence structure. I felt like some of the sentences were so descriptive and unnecessarily complicated that I had to read them over multiple times in order to understand what was being said. I have not read any of Bracken’s writing before, so I can’t compare her writing style in this book to other’s she has written.

Despite the sometimes difficult writing style, I enjoyed the complexity of the plot and how each piece of the puzzle fit into place. I loved the adventurous feel of the story and the urgency that was felt throughout (minus the first 50 pages). Etta and Nicholas’s purpose actually felt critical, which can be lacking in stories where the plot is so far removed from real life.  The plot twists were quite unexpected, especially in the last 100 pages or so. I can’t wait to see where the story goes next!


“I want you to remember that – it’s our choices that matter in the end. Not wishes, not words, not promises.”

“So cling to your rights, your beliefs, your future – but know that none of them will help you here. You haven’t been forced to survive in the same way as the centuries of women who came before you. You know nothing of the impossibly small weapons we must use to carve out knowledge and power.”

“I’ve never slapped anyone before,’ she admitted.
‘How did you find the experience?’
‘It would have been more satisfying if he’d gone flying out of his seat like I imagined.”


Despite the issues I had with the writing style, the amazing plot still warrants giving this book a solid four hearts.  I am so excited that this series continues!




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