PASSENGER (Passenger #1) - by Alexandra Bracken

PASSENGER - Alexandra Bracken
Published: 2016 - by Disney Hyperion.
Pages: 496.
Genres: Young adult / time travel / romance / adventure / fantasy / historical
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
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 remember coming across an excerpt from Passenger years ago after it had just been released. After that, I heard the hype, saw the glowing reviews, and it's been on my TBR ever since. It looked like an amazing book.

It's certainly well written. The prose is poetic, melodic, and flows beautifully, evoking every sense. The detail is exquisite (sometimes too much - hence the boring parts) and the descriptions are incredibly poignant and well imagined.
But there's a heck of a lot of info-dumping as well. Especially at the start when things are extremely slow and boring, the info dumping doesn't help. And throughout the whole book it never goes away. Which brings me to....
Although the story's beautifully written, it's also frequently boring and tedious. It improves a lot towards the end (and gets exciting), but there's still the info dumping and tiresome exposition. I really struggled to keep going, and sometimes it didn't feel so much like an adventure than it did a fight against an opposing current.

I loved how the time travel was done. It makes sense, it's clever, it's original, and it works. When reading other time travel books, I've often found the specifics to be a bit off, but Bracken handles it brilliantly in Passenger.

“It's our choices that matter in the end. Not wishes, not words, not promises.”

The characters are boring. Sophia's the most interesting person in the book, but she's absent for most of the story.  The antagonists are vague and entirely forgettable, and the whole Alice story is impossible to relate to. I could not sympathise with any of the characters, especially when it came to Alice's "incident" (to avoid spoilers) and Julian's death. Those two "incidents" impact Etta and Nicholas hugely, but I didn't feel as if I got the time to know the people they mourned before I was expected to empathise with them. 
Etta's a very inoffensive heroine. And perhaps as a result, I found her boring, dull, and hugely inconsistent. She keeps saying how she doesn't need a protector and that she's perfectly capable, but she's still rescued by Nicholas in almost every chapter.
Nicholas has a lot of depth, which I loved. He's a typical old-fashioned gentleman, overprotective, and with a painful back story. But he's also too much a protective, proper gentleman, and that gets eye-roll worthy and annoying at times.
However. I loved that Bracken chose an African-American for her hero. That's an unfortunate rarity in YA fantasy, and it's a delight to see a coloured hero getting the girl and having a huge role in the story.

I didn't ship the romance at all. There is no chemistry whatsoever between Nicholas and Etta, and their relationship borders dangerously on Insta-love. Right from the moment they meet each other, they feel a pull towards the other, and it's almost too "fate induced".

Passenger is a beautifully written book, and it's a sweeping romance epic for those who can fall for Nicholas and Etta's love and enjoy slow pacing and lengthy descriptions.
But unfortunately I couldn't get into the romance, and the characters bored me.


  1. I think I would have DNFed this pretty quickly...I so much hate constant info dumps and boring bits!

    1. Lol! Yeah, I was tempted I admit ;)

  2. So time travel is handled a bit differently, or did it just make more sense, or both? It'd be neat to see time travel done differently than usual. Insta-love and info dumping... um, just, no? I don't mind info-dumps if their super brief to clear something up, but other than that, they should be avoided at all costs.

    xoxo Abigail Lennah | ups & downs

    1. Hmm, a bit of both I think? It's still confusing, but it does make sense if you really concentrate.
      Totally agree :)
      Thanks for the comment, Abby!

  3. The cover is really beautiful but the story doesn't convince me at all. I think I'm going to let it go for now, thank you for the review :)

    1. It is :)
      Sure! Thanks for stopping by :)

  4. Time Travel is something I'm very interested in! (Probably because it would be a neat way to conquer by TBR but oh well) :P But the info dumping has totally put me off from reading this book! I absolutely hate to be smacked left and right with information! JUST NO! Great review Amy :)

    1. Haha I like how you think ;)
      YES EXACTLY. I HATE when authors do that :(
      Thanks girl :) <3

  5. Ooh I remember being curious about this book when I first came across it but forgot about its release. I do like the premise and the fact that it's well-written. Sorry the characters were boring though. That makes me hesitate a tad but I'm still interested. Maybe soon. Thanks for your honest review.

    1. Yeah it is unfortunate about the characters :(
      Thank you for the comment!

  6. Yeah, I remember this one being such a slow starter as well. I can't decide if I want to reread or just try to find some spark notes on it before I start book two! Great review Amy and I think we've found another book we agree on ;)

    1. Haha I think spark notes!!

      Hehe, miracles DO happen ;)
      Thanks Di!