Book Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

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Passenger by Alexandra Bracken / My rating: ★★☆☆☆

One sentence summary: Seventeen year old Etta Spencer goes back in time and travels throughout history with her pirate companion, Nicholas Carter, on a mission left behind by her mother.

This was the danger, the seduction of time travel, she realized – it was the opportunity, the freedom of a thousand possibilities of where to live and how to start over. It was the beauty open to you in your life if you only stopped for a moment to look. 

Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

Plot

I really wanted to like this book, and I can understand why people love it, but something about it just wasn’t working for me. It had so many great elements- time travel, diversity, history! But I was just…insanely bored.

But first, I really liked the romantic in this novel. It seemed like insta-love at first, which I wasn’t feeling at all, but Passenger took a lot of time on its romance and it went into much more depth than I expected. I loved the dynamic between Etta, a white girl from 2015 New York, and Nicholas, an African American pirate from the 18th century. I loved how Bracken explored the racial and gender challenges that came up between them using their separate cultures and time periods.

As for everything else…I was just not feeling it. I was expecting thrill, but what I kept finding myself trapped in were very lengthy chapters full of long scenes of dialogue, repetitive introspection, and only occasional action. I loved the historical aspect of this book, but I felt that Bracken didn’t take full advantage of the time periods she put her characters in. I wanted more interaction with the cultures, more interest and emersion and exploration. Basically, I felt that the settings weren’t used to their full potential, and that really disappointed me.

This was a very difficult book to get through for me. I usually read a book in a few days, a week tops, but this book took me over two weeks. However, I was still interested enough to see it through to the finish. And even then I wasn’t very impressed by the ending- it felt like the situation was set up too conveniently, and I was 100% ready to get to the last page so I could finally be done.

Characters

The reason I gave this book two stars and not one is because I really did like Etta and Nicholas, and as I said above, I was very much a fan of their romance. I admire Etta’s character because she is tough and resilient and kind, and Nicholas was strong and gentle and also kind. Maybe it’s because I’ve read so many books lately that star bad boy/flirty/cocky kinds of guys as love interests, but Nicholas was very refreshing to read, he was lovely. I loved how they were strong in their principles and morals and were able to learn from one another.

I also had a certain admiration for Sophia, a girl out for gain and revenge, and I enjoyed reading Hasan, Etta’s cousin from the past, but I wasn’t really interested in any one else.

Writing

I don’t know what it was about the writing of this book, but I had the hardest time concentrating on it. Like a textbook I couldn’t absorb, I kept finding myself having to reread paragraphs because I’d zoned out. The writing itself wasn’t terrible, but there was a lot of info dumping and LOTS of repetitive introspection I eventually just began to skim. This book just felt…too wordy for me, and I think it’s a big part of the reason I didn’t have a great time with it.

Was I satisfied?

Nah, and I don’t think I’ll be reading its sequel, Wayfarer. Alas. This book’s cover does get points for being pretty, though.

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

  1. Yeah, I agree with you. I enjoyed it slightly more than you did (it wasn’t as difficult for me to get into as a textbook!), but I did end up rating it more generously than I should’ve; I probably should’ve given it two and a half stars instead of three. I’ll join you in the not-intending-to-read-the-sequel camp. Excellent review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: February Reads | lost: purple quill

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