I cannot help but think, it matters not who you love, but only the quality of such a love. And so what I wish to say to you is… a flower is no less beautiful because it does not bloom in the expected form. Because it last an hour, and not days.
Henrietta, Etta, Spencer is a classically trained violinist. She gave up everything to practice with her mentor, Alice, during all of her free time. Unflinchingly prepared for her big performance, she overhears an argument between her mom, Rose, and Alice. Desperate to prove herself, Etta goes on stage only to find herself unfit to finish the piece. Fleeing from embarrassment, Etta follows a girl named Sophie unaware that’s she about to be lead through a passage into another time & place. Disoriented & heartbroken, Etta wakes up on board a ship in the 1770s captained by Nicholas Carter. Unknowingly, Etta was pulled into a plot to find an item that can change everything for time travelers. With Nicholas by her side, Etta races through passages, fleeing danger, to save everything she cares about.
Let me just start by saying the cover is absolutely stunning. Even under the dust jacket, the book is beautiful.
The other night, I stayed up until 2am reading this book because I just couldn’t put it down. I read the majority of this book throughout the day and had to read the last 150 pages before I slept. My reward was the ending of this fantastic book and Alexandra Bracken tweeting me back.
- Nicholas Carter– A sailor and a time traveler who’s given up his ability in order to repent for his past. He will do whatever it takes to protect Etta. “You cannot fathom the distance I would travel for you.“
- Etta Spencer– A violin prodigy & a blank slate. Unaware of her abilities & heritage, she finds herself in the middle of a plot to control time. Motivated by her desire to save her mom and mentor, Alice, Etta goes on a journey to find the one thing that can save them.
- Sophie Ironwood – Driven by the need to prove herself to her grandfather, Sophie does whatever it takes to become heir to the Ironwood legacy.
I really liked how Etta and Sophie, both completely different personalities & temperaments, are both strong women. Sophie, unfortunately, lives in a time where she’s not taken seriously because she wasn’t born a man. This fuels her desire for power. Etta struggles with time travels rules because of how much freedom she has in the present. It’s hard for her to go backwards and lose so many of her rights.
The love interest is African American and that’s pretty fantastic. Bracken doesn’t gloss over that fact, either. She makes sure to have the main character, Etta, aware that Nicholas faces certain struggles that she doesn’t have to think about while time traveling. Nicholas is all too aware of how he’s treated in different time periods & places. “What a privilege it was to never feel like you had to take stock of your surroundings, or gauge everyone’s reactions to the color of your skin.” Etta, being from present day, doesn’t see anything wrong with the two of them being together but Nicholas, who knows a different reality, is aware that it’s not always possible. Yay for diverse characters!
Love was selfish, wasn’t it? It made honest men want things they had no right to. t cocooned one from the rest of the world, erased time itself, knocked away reason. It made you live in defiance of the inevitable. It made you want another’s mind, body; it made you feel as if you deserved to own their heart, and carve out a place in it.
I think this may be one of my favorite books about time travel. My ultimate favorite is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. This is so completely different and I love the new twist on the genre.
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. Those things drowned out even the most basic dangers of collapsing passages, of being lost, of finding yourself in an unfamiliar time.
I think Alexandra Bracken did a good job with explaining about time & time travel without going over the readers’ heads. The way time travel works in this world is through passages that take you to a different year & place (though the same day). I thought that was really neat. The controlling Ironwood family kind of reminded me of a mob boss family that uses their influence to control what’s happening around them.
The information about time travelers was given in small increments. Which made sense to the story since Etta had no clue as to what was happening and her partner, Nicholas, wasn’t privy to much information. They were both finding out what was really going on as they went.
I love that, for their own reasons, Etta & Nicholas are on a journey together to find the astrolabe, the only one of its kind left with a power that time traveler’s seek. They rely on each other and that slowly turns into something more. I liked how much they have to learn about one another and even about their respective time periods.
I know other reviews found this book dreadfully slow & boring and I honestly don’t understand that at all. I loved every page and couldn’t believe the note that it ended on. I want to read the next book, Wayfarer, ASAP. I found the concept & story fascinating. I loved the characters and the slow burning romance. I enjoyed the ever-present description.
Ultimately, I think this is a book people are either going to love or hate. I happen to be one of the ones that LOVED it. The characters were all well-written and interesting, even if I hated them. This is my first Alexandra Bracken book but rest assured, I will be reading her others as well.
What did you think of Passenger? Have you read it yet or is it still on your TBR? Share your thoughts below!