Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken {review}

by Alexandra Bracken
♦publisher: Disney Hyperion
♦release date: January 5th, 2016
♦hardcover, 486 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series, Passenger, book 1
♦source: from publisher for magazine review
(an edited version of this review originally posted at
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

Review: Etta Spencer is pulled into her mother’s secret family legacy. She discovers they are one of four families that can travel through the passages of time. When she is kidnapped and forced to retrieve an heirloom that her mother has hidden somewhere in time, her dangerous mission will lead her across oceans and far off lands and into worldly eye-opening experiences she never could have imagined.
Passenger is a sweeping historical journey---it feels so vast and the plot is so beautifully orchestrated. In the beginning, I did feel a little overwhelmed with the amount of backstory happening, but I was also undeniably impressed with how much research and knowledge went in to every historical detail that was woven into the story. Once the adventure and danger really kick in, (for me, this was after Etta discovers her real quest and leaves the 1800s) I found myself unable to put this one down. The romance really kept a great balance with the storyline, never overtaking Etta's real purpose to save her mother and stop the tyranny going on among the traveling families. Etta and Nicholas face challenge after challenge with a strength that they seem to spark in each other, and watching them grow closer through it all is so compelling.  I also love how she slowly discovers that things were not always what they seemed with her relationship with her mother. Music also plays a big part---not as big as I'd expected, but I loved how connected she was to her love of music.  
The tale encompasses several centuries and five cultures of intriguing characters and engaging moments in time. I loved all the time-hopping that landed the characters in familiar historical moments and the DaVinci Code-style riddle-solving as Etta cleverly works through her mothers hints to get to the next point.  These things mixed with a complicated romance and the strong theme of family and freedom are what made Passenger an absolute must-read and has me eagerly anticipated the second book!


Alexandra Bracken was born and raised in Arizona, but moved east to study at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. She now writes full time and can be found hard at work on her next novel in a charming apartment overflowing with books. You can visit her online at or on Twitter (@alexbracken).

Pre-order: Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon


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