Review of Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

By: Alexandra Bracken
Release Date: January 5th 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Format: Print arc
Source: Big Honcho Media

A copy of this book was given to me in consideration for review.

My Rating:

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

My Thoughts:
There has been a lot of excitement surrounding this book and there were aspects I really appreciated but overall, I wasn’t 100% in love with this one. I was lucky enough to get ahold of the corrected arc so this review will be for that version. I’m not sure if things will change or not for the final copy.

First let’s talk about what I really did enjoy about this book. First, the writing was well done and I think that Bracken did a great job in describing her setting, time periods and characters. I could easily visualize all the various locations which was really impressive. This was a time travel novel and the way that Bracken approached this aspect was really brilliant. I loved the passages to time periods she created. I thought that the rules she associated with travel made a lot of sense and didn’t bog down the story at all.

Though I was sad about it, I did like that the color of Nicholas’ skin was a factor in how comfortable or not he felt in different time periods and how he was treated. Reminders like this need to continue and I felt it was a very important message to readers.

One character in particular, Alice, Etta’s musical mentor and life long friend, was such an amazing character and she was really my favorite piece of the story. I felt she was well developed and added a lot of heart to the book.

Where things went a bit astray for me was at the beginning to middle of the book. I felt it was rather slow paced and I wasn’t able to connect. I think because there was a lot of world building to explain things were slower paced than I’d prefer. I never was able to really form an attachment to any of the characters (except Alice) or really feel much chemistry between them. This was a rather important element to the story and since I wasn’t fully invested it did negatively impact my reading experience.

Why didn’t I form an attachment? I’m really not sure. I wanted to, but it just wasn’t happening. The secondary characters, minus Alice, were fairly weak and I really didn’t get much of a lasting impression of them. I never feared for Etta’s mother which took away a sense of urgency that would have helped the pacing for me.

As for the main character’s romantic relationship it didn’t move me like I wanted it to. I never really felt much between them and it felt a tad insta-love? I never got a sense for why they felt the way they did. Maybe, things were rushed between them? I’m not sure but it didn’t work for me (even though I really, really wanted it to). I was starting to appreciate them a tad more towards the end of the book and I’m hoping that if I read the next in the series I’ll form a deeper attachment.

Final Thoughts:
I think for Passenger, the hype I created,  the eagerness, and longing I had to read this book might have set up an unfair disadvantage for the story. I had so many expectations (so not fair, I know) about how much I’d love every moment I did feel a bit disappointed that I couldn’t really form a connection in the first half of the book.

I ended up setting it aside for a week or so midway. When I picked it back up I did enjoy it more and felt that the ending really left things open and (cliff hanger!) made me more eager to read the next book.

I’m curious have you read Passenger yet? If so what did you think.

Also, if you are really eager to read this book I do have a giveaway running for a finished copy.


  1. says

    I’m sorry you didn’t love Passenger as much as you’d hoped. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed Bracken’s writing but I can definitely understand world-building slowing down a book too much. Agh, insta-love… sometimes I don’t mind it at all but it’s definitely a wild card and I prefer slow-burn romance. Anyway, thanks for the great review!

    Zareena @ The Slanted Bookshelf

  2. says

    The cover for this book is so pretty and there seems to be a lot of hype around it. Sounds like it has it’s good and it’s less good points. I like the sound of how it was easy to visualize the settings and different time periods. And it seems the author managed to explain the tiem travel and rules associated with it pretty well. I usually don’t read tiem travel books as I don’t like how it get’s explained and it never makes sense to me.
    That’s a shame the pace is slow at the beginnign and it prevented you from forming a connection with the characters, beside Alice. Sometimes I am so exicted for a book that it feels even worse when it doesn’t live up to my expectations. Great Review!

  3. says

    There’s been a lot of hype surrounding this book, and they surely make me have higher expectations for this book. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoyed it though. But ti sounds interesting though, about time travel and all. Let’s just hope the insta love won’t kill my love for this book! Lovely review!<3

  4. says

    Eeep! I’m sorry you didn’t love this one, Kristen. I absolutely adored it, even with the cliffhanger ending (although the cliffhanger was why it didn’t get five stars from me). It reminded me a bit of Truthwitch, with the captain of a sea ferrying a passenger, which I thought was cool.

    Great review, Kristen! I think I will enter your giveaway. 🙂

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  5. says

    Oh, it’s sad when you get your hopes up for a book and then it doesn’t deliver and it’s so much worse than if you had just read the book blindly without those expectations. I do have a soft spot for time-travel books though, so I might still give this one a try!

  6. says

    Stunning review Kristen. <3 Aw, I'm so sorry that you didn't love this book 🙁 And aw, not fully shipping the romance is so depressing. I'm sorry. But I'm glad you still liked the book a lot, even so 🙂 I'm excited to read it. Yet a bit nervous too. I hope to love it 🙂 Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it sweetie. <3

  7. says

    Ooh. Sorry Passenger didn’t match up to the hype or the main romance. I felt the same about Everything, Everything. Though I liked bits of it, I noticed so many were absolutely infatuated with its every aspect. Lovely review, Kristen!

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