While perusing the shelves of my local library the other week, I stumbled across Passenger. For those of you who have not read this yet, or have no idea what I’m talking about, this story is quite unique. Putting a new spin on fiction, Alexandra Bracken, the author of this clever little story, decided to combine action, fantasy, and romance. There is little downtime before the book has your mind running and your brain involved in every page. It’s hard to go wrong with this one. So here’s my review of Passenger.
Seventeen year old “Etta” (Henrietta) Spencer, talented violinist, quickly finds herself in a world of time travelers, deceit, and uncertainty. Her actions could not only affect her, but also the very timeline of history itself. With the help of Nicholas Carter, Etta will go on a journey to save those she loves and discover the truth about her past.
The direction of the plot, simply put, was ingenious. Rather than hold to a particular time or a particular place, the concept of time travel allowed the author to give a pleasant amount of variety. But it wouldn’t be enough for the book to revolve around time travel. I mean, several other books have as well. But Passenger handles it very well. Just as you get comfortable in a particular setting, everything changes. The location, dialogue, and characters all shift according to the new location. However, there is nothing lost; each transition is smooth and makes perfect sense. The transitions really aid the storyline in movement and add a great deal of interest.
“When she finished, she gave it a look of ire. ‘I hate this century. It’s so…rustic, don’t you think?’
‘What century?’ Etta heard herself whisper.
‘You really haven’t done this before, have you? You truly had no idea. Remarkable.’ Sophia glanced up, lips twisting. ‘Guess.’
She didn’t want to say it out loud, but it was the only way to know. ‘Eighteenth?’ she guessed, thinking of the costumes. ‘You brought me back to the eighteenth century?’
Desperation raised the pitch of her voice. Tell me, tell me, just tell me-
‘No one brought you anywhere,’ said Sophia. ‘You traveled.'”
(Passenger, p. 81)
Alexandra Bracken did a superb job at describing cities such as 18th century NYC and 20th century London. Her writing gives a clear description of Etta’s surroundings, allowing the reader to easily imagine the sights and sounds. I’ve come to really appreciate authors who take the time to elaborate. After recently reading a series that seemed to lack descriptions, it was refreshing to actually know what the author was talking about. These extra details help construct the world visualized by the reader. Thankfully, Passenger doesn’t leave you in the dark.
Featuring two main characters, Etta Spencer and Nicholas Carter are quickly brought to life. So many of their thoughts are brought out on paper, giving both characters a sense of realism. Throughout the book, the author goes on to describe their appearances, backgrounds, and facial expressions, only deepening the connection you feel with them.
“She was shoved forward, and the world shattered. A blackness ringed the edges of her vision, clenched her spine, dragged her, tossed her into the air with crushing pressure. Etta lost her senses, her logic, her thoughts of Stop, help, Mom–she lost everything. She disappeared.”
(Passenger, p. 41)
Additionally, Bracken implemented jumps in the characters’ thought processes. At certain points, a character’s thoughts will occasionally trail off or break away to a new line of thought. I actually enjoyed this aspect of the book because it was so easy to relate to. It gave a natural feel to the story at it progressed, even when there was no dialogue. Which is good because sometimes there was no dialogue, for a few pages. This never seemed to pose a problem for the plot. Instead, Bracken masterfully used these “quiet” moments to better develop the characters, allowing the readers to understand their emotions and actions.
Overall, this book does not have sensitive content. Language is minimal, often times to the point of non-existent. This book does contain some romantic elements to it, as young adult fiction so often likes to do. I am pleased to say that this has been mild. Most references are pertaining to facial features (eyes, lips, etc.) and the upper torso (shoulders, arms, etc.). The romance does escalate eventually, but little is described and the scene is cut off quickly, leaving you to fill in what happened.
There’s really nothing bad to be said about this book. I have enjoyed it from start to finish. Towards the end, the romantic element can become a little overbearing, but it is still an enjoyable part of the whole. The combination of adventure, fantasy, and romance all come together to make one fantastic book, and I cannot wait for the Wayfarer.