Book Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

PassengerPassenger by Alexandra Bracken

Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 5, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel, Historical

Pages: 496 Format: Hardcover Source: Library

4.5/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

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

A mash up of historical and science fiction with time travel and pirates. Was Passenger by Alexandra Bracken made for me? The answer is a swift and resounding yes despite my worry going in that I wouldn’t like it. There is so much to discover within these pages. Etta and Nicholas’ quest through new places and time frames is the perfect mix of adventure and action, puzzles and emotions. It was such a captivating read and I had a hard time putting it down.

This was my first Alexandra Bracken novel and I was thoroughly impressed. Her writing is so melodic and inspiring. Words flow off the page like lyrics in a song. The way she connects music and travel within the narrative was such a unique comparison and it reflects in the writing. The detail and research Bracken put in had to be immense to create such a realistic experience. Plus the dynamics of time travel in Passenger are relatively easy to follow, not slowing down the story.

Right from the start, I knew the historical aspects of this book were going to seal my love for this story. History is one of my greatest passions in life, (I’ve got a degree in it), and being able to explore different time periods all in one novel was a joy. I could live in the Metropolitan Museum, and those scenes were wonderful, especially running through the Egyptian exhibits. Traveling the vastness of the past would be the dream of every historian, archeologist, etc., right? This story truly speaks to my soul.

With such a captivating story and setting, I thought the characters in Passenger might fail me. For the most part though, Bracken came through again. At first Etta came off as annoying and petty but this quickly shifts once she is thrust into circumstances beyond her control. The way she pulls herself together and uses her mind brought her back into my good graces. Nicholas Carter, on the other hand, was the light of my life right from the start. He does not shy away from his pain, living with it and pushing past it. Etta and Nicholas’ partnership was a highlight while reading.

Overall Passenger by Alexandra Bracken was an amazing story of discovery and survival, pain and hope. With excellent writing, stunning settings, and a partnership beyond compare, this book did not disappoint. My one complaint would be that the ending felt rushed or just off in my mind. Other than that this book had me enraptured. I mean, I ordered myself a copy before I’d even finished it. I’d definitely recommend everyone at least give this book a shot. It may not be for everyone, but if you love history pick this one up immediately!

Favorite Quotes

To stand in the heart of a long-dead empire.

To cross continents and see the wonders of the world before they disappeared.

To sit in the audience in Vienna’s Kärntnertortheater, listening to the debut of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

To beg a lesson from Back in his years at Leipzig.

Rigging. His hands itched to touch it, to feel the spray of the sea kicked up by the wind and his ship charging through the water.

Free the fire fluttering inside her rib cage. Work her muscles, the bow, the violin, until she played herself to ash and embers and left the rest of the world behind to smolder.

They moved beneath the watchful gaze of pharaohs. In the daytime, during the museum’s regular hours, these rooms radiated golden light, like sun-warmed stone. But even the creamy walls and limestone gateways were shadowed now, their grooves deeper. The painted faces of sarcophagi and gods with the heads of beasts seemed sharper, sneering, as the girls followed the winding path through the exhibits.

There are rules, but rules may be rewritten if only one hand holds the ink.

So have you read Passenger by Alexandra Bracken yet? Hesitant on historical fiction? Wondering how many pirate books I can read in a year? Let me know in the comments below!

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

  1. What a lovely review. Pirates aren’t my favorite, but I am starting to get more into historical fiction and I LOVE pretty anything with time travel in it, so I’ll definitely be adding Passenger to my TBR.


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