Thursday, December 10, 2015

Early Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

by Alexandra Bracken
Read: November 28 - December 3, 2015
January 5, 2016 by Disney-Hyperion
Source: BigHoncho Media (THANK YOU!)
Category: YA, time travel, historical fiction 
Series: Book 1/2 Duet

Book description: 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

I have never read a book by Alexandra Bracken before, and I have no idea why, because Passenger was EXCELLENT. 

Here's a quick breakdown of why I loved this book:

1) The general setup of the story was engaging and created lots of increasing tension, plus I could follow the time travel without too much trouble. Etta, a violinist on the verge of turning professional, is kidnapped by travelers and wakes up on a ship in 1776 in the middle of a battle being waged by Nicholas and his crew. Not only is that the moment Etta finds out time travel exists - and that she can do it too - but she soon learns that she's a central character in a time travel conspiracy that she knew nothing about. Then Etta, along with Nicholas - who is more than just a sailor - is forced on a journey through time and history, as everything just gets crazier. I was absorbed from the start, and had a lot of fun visiting different places and periods all through world history, including several in very contentions periods. 
In fact, 

Passenger was surprisingly timely despite taking place mostly in the past. The last place the characters visited made my heart break for what is happening there today. It was really interesting (and sometimes heartbreaking) to see what about society has changed - and what hasn't. Even more, 

3) The story works hard to get the details of the past right. The sights, smells, sounds as well as the social aspects. One of the big questions explored as we follow Etta and Nicholas is what was life like for a woman or people of color in the past? In many places that answer is, 'not kind'. All of this added layers of reality and tension to the story, and seeing the past come alive in all its messy details is exactly why history has always been my favorite subject. I haven't read a lot of time travel books that delve into these elements quite as much as this one does. 
Speaking of Etta and Nicholas, 

4) I LOVED the dual narration between these two. I thought Etta and Nicholas were both amazing characters separately, and even more incredible working together as they slowly build trust and more more MORE between them. They are no-nonsense, respect each other, communicate and have too much going on to be creating their own angst. 
For real, though, this is my new OTP power couple:

5) I was not expecting the amount of swoon in these pages, but I approve! It was delicious and I could very easily understand how Etta and Nicholas fit together despite being born in vastly different time periods. I just hope they can make it work with such an uncertain future. *bites nails*

A few small things bothered me:
I'm not sure 18th century people would hear Etta's New York accent and think "she's American and not British," since America and Britain was intermingling so much at that point. But I was able to pass by those small details pretty easily. However, I do have one pet peeve that showed up in this story. It isn't a big plot spoiler, but gives something away about the romance. I wrote about it in my Goodreads review, HERE.

Overwhelmingly, Passenger was excellent! I know hype can be a tricky thing, but this one deserves it, in my opinion. Read it!

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: High

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