Review: Passenger

PassengerPassenger by Alexandra Bracken

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

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 

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via Netgalley and Disney Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.


This book was recommended to me by Cookie and Alyssa ! Click on their names to read their reviews.

I was very excited when I saw that I could request this on Netgalley. At first I was nervous about this book. I’m not too big on time travel and it tends to get confusing. But because I heard so much about this book that I knew I had to read it. It also helped that my two GR friends (girls mentioned above) had written amazing reviews which pushed me to read this. Unfortunately the time travel did confuse me.

This book is written in third person and switches between Nicholas and Etta’s point of view. The book begins with a prologue set in 1910 Bhutan. Nicholas and his half brother Julian are on a journey looking for some item. You are not given the name of the person that sent them on the journey nor are you told what they are looking for. Nicholas is stuck carrying all of Julian’s belongings including his own. He does not like Julian because of his stuck up attitude. But he puts up with him because he doesn’t want his temper to show and he is his brother.

Nicholas has a feeling that there will be a storm coming soon. He suggests that they rest for the night then look for the item in the morning, but Julian denies. You are told that Nicholas is a black slave who has been sold to the family that ordered this journey. He loves history so he spends whatever money he makes on history books. To learn and to be one step ahead of the family that bought him. Aside from being with said family he does work on a ship along with Captain Hall.

The two seem to find what they were looking for and Julian urges Nicholas to take a picture of it. Just then a storm begins. In the chaos Julian slips and nearly falls. Nicholas can either let him die or save him. He chooses to save him because despite Julian being awful, he’s still his brother. He grabs Julian’s hand and just as he is about to lift him Julian’s glove slips and he dies.

We are then taken to present day New York. Etta has a very important night. She will be performing a debut in front of 700 people. This is exactly what she has wanted and worked all these years for. While she is getting ready her mother comes in and asks whether she wants Etta to do her hair. Etta can do it but she says yes. Her mother gives her these beautiful earrings and she jokingly asks whether she stole them. Her mother explains that she really wants Etta to know she has never stolen anything from anyone.

Her instructor Alice comes in to get Etta. Her mother promises to be there explaining that she needs to get ready. Alice is more of a motherly figure than her mother. Her mother is quite cold and reserved. Her mother is a painter and she has traveled to all the places in her paintings.

When the two arrive Alice eyes her earrings with an odd expression on her face and says that she needs to make a call. Etta goes in to meet the rest of the players. One face in particular stands out. Her name is Sophia, oddly enough the woman did not give Sophia’s last name. Almost as if she doesn’t have one.

When some time passes Etta gets worried and goes to look for Alice. She finds her in her mother’s office. The two are having a fight. Etta overhears some parts. Alice is trying to explain her mother that Etta does not have the training and nor is she ready for this. While her mother retorts that Alice is underestimating Etta. Etta assumes they are talking about her debut and she barges into the office. Etta tells them both that she does not care what they think. She has given up everything for this night and that she is playing. She leaves.

During her performance she thinks that she is hearing negative feedback. But every time she looks at the crowd they seem fine. Having a panic attack as the feedback continues she runs off the stage. The woman tells Etta that no one was giving her feedback. Sophia offers to take Etta and tells her that she to is hearing feedback. Sophia takes Etta to the feedback and they see that Alice has been shot. Etta bursts into tears and rushes to Alice’s body. Alice tells Etta to run. Sophia picks up Etta as more people arrive. Sophia apologizes and Etta blacks out.

I only had two problems with this book. The feedback scene was odd. It would’ve been better had we been told what the feedback was rather than she was hearing feedback. When Etta wakes up on the ship, she explains that she feels like she is drowning in a mans blood. Then she pushes herself out and floats to where Nicholas and Captain Hall are. That did not make any sense. It was almost as if she was in limbo or something. After that I decided not to continue. Maybe it’s explained more as you read on but I didn’t stick it out that long.

I loved the writing! It is one of the best third person styles I’ve read in years! You could actually picture yourself in the setting and hear Etta playing a piece as well as Nicholas sailing. It was very engaging and it makes readers want to find out what will happen next. I loved Etta’s character! Sophia was interesting and rude. Nicholas was nice. And Alice was a doll. I really do not like Etta’s mom. It’s like she knew what would happen but rather than stopping it she let it continue.

Overall I did not enjoy this. But I still recommend it because it has a good plot, it’s engaging, Etta is not your typical YA female, diversity, it’s engaging, and there is some history. I will keep a lookout for this authors future works. I hope you all enjoy this better than I did!

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