by Alexandra Bracken
Passenger is a time-traveling love story. That is about all I can say to describe it. It follows two points of view, Etta and Nicholas, and develops into a time traveling epic adventure of love, loss, danger, and excitement.
As to be expected with anything written by Alexander Bracken, my mind is a mess of emojis, . She has the power to create a world that makes you feel like you are living in it. And this one is insane! She writes beautiful words and creates atmospheres that are so real you can reach out and touch them. One of the downfalls of this book is the pacing, especially at the beginning. It is hard to get into it, for well over 150 pages. I know that does sound like a lot but don’t get me wrong there is some exciting things that happen in those pages but the connection to the story is a bit lacking. However, once you power through it you will become so deeply involved in the story you will forget you struggled at the beginning.
The great thing about this story is that we get to live through history. The research that Bracken must have completed to create such a rich historical setting must have been insane. This book takes us through 1776 New York to 1940 London to 14th century Damascus. Her attention to detail is impeccable. She relates everything to the time from dress to food to setting to cultural standards. The thing that makes this so much more real and exciting is that Nicholas is from 1776 while Etta is from New York City, present day. By having this story told in two POV we can see just where cultural differences occur and how much etiquette and customs have changed. When you then place these two characters in different time periods than what they grew up in, it is just mind blowing. Again, that attention to detail that Bracken maintains throughout the novel makes everything that much more relatable and realistic.
The two main characters are well written and likable. Etta is introduced to a world she knows nothing about. Her mother kept her from the world of time travel and Etta must learn to adapt quickly in order to survive. She is a strong character who fights for herself and the lives of those she loves. She has a subtle fierceness to her that makes her overcome obstacles and decisions in the most clever ways. Nicholas is a sailor, he loves the water, and he swore off time traveling ever again after losing his half brother. His life becomes intertwined with Etta’s and he breaks his ban on time traveling in order to protect Etta, whom he has developed a connection with. Do not worry, there is no insta-love!! Although it is clear that these two will be love interests from the get-go it is in no way instant. The way there relationship grows is organic and beautiful. They learn to adapt to each other despite the hundreds of years of cultural differences. I should probably mention that Nicholas is African-American, the bastard child of a slave and a rich man. This obviously adds even more depth to the story. And it works. It is still very uncommon to see a main character of a different race in YA novels. I think with this book if Nicholas was white the story would not have worked. It would have taken away so much. That small detail gives so much to this story. It gives this novel so many more beautiful moments. (Like the dancing scene in London and the part on page 427, oh god the feels at that part.)
There are other secondary characters that fuel this story along. Cyrus Ironwood, the villian, is so evil and conniving. He is written so well, that it is easy to hate him but he has enough background to almost understand where is drive for power comes from. Sophia is a character I am excited to see more of. She is a bit conniving like her grandfather Cyrus Ironwood but there is something buried deep inside her waiting to be unleashed and I bet you good money it will flourish in the next book. Hasan is a character we meet in Damascus, an uncle of Etta. He has a minor role but his character is nurturing and well likable. I hope we get to see more of him as well. Etta’s mother Rose is only spoken of and doesn’t have a major physical presence in the novel but is kind of the reason everything in this book is happening. Her story is weaved into backstories and secrets and it is almost like she is present. The other minor character is Alice. The only thing I am going to say about her is just how well Bracken introduces her and connects her to another part in the story. Let’s just say it was a bit emotional.
Now what you have been questioning and wondering…Is there a cliffhanger? OF COURSE THERE IS A CLIFFHANGER! I MEAN THIS IS A BOOK BY ALEXANDRA BRACKEN AND I DON’T THINK SHE KNOWS HOW TO END A BOOK WITHOUT ONE! So ughhhh, yes a rather huge cliffhanger and now all I want is the next book, Wayfarer. (Breathe Vicki, relax, you can survive, there are so many books coming out this year. January 2017 will be here before you know it. <–That’s what I have been telling myself over and over again for the last 17 hours.)
Bracken has written a compelling story that allows you to travel across time and live all the lives you wish you could have experienced without ever leaving your couch and the comfort of living in a time where you are used to your amenities. I cannot wait for the next book to come out and enrich me even further into the depths of history and maybe even possibly the future!
“But right now all Etta wanted was to see the stage lights warm her skin. Free the fire fluttering inside her rib cage. Work her muscles, the bow, the violin, until she played herself to ash and embers and left the rest of the world behind to smolder.”
“The melody of her heart had no name; it was quick, and light. It rolled with the waves, falling as the breath left his chest, rising as he inhaled. It was the rain sliding down the glass; the fog spreading its fingers over the water. The creaking of a ship’s great body. The secrets whispered by the wind, and the unseen life that moved below. It was the flame of one last candle.”
“It’s our choices that matter in the end. Not wishes, not words, not promises.”
“She’d shown him her mind, and she’d opened up her heart, and now he knew the taste of her tears. And he was wrecked.”
“He would not surrender to the disaster of loving her.”
“But she wondered if, in moving outside of the natural flow of time, they had forgotten the most crucial point of life—that it wasn’t meant to be lived for the past, or even the future, but for each present moment.”
“I wish you’d go a a little easier on him,” she said.
“He came in here thrashing a sword around. Was I supposed to stand idly by and do nothing?” he huffed.
“Well, you weren’t supposed to try and rearrange his face with your fist.”
“I wasn’t,” Nicholas protested. “He lunged up into it several times. I was only in the way.”
“She let herself fall into it, dissolving into him. And what she found in that soft, warm darkness had no beginning and no end, for this time was their own, and it created its own eternity.”
“Love was selfish, wasn’t it? It made honest men want things they had no right to. It 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.”
“You cannot fathom the distance I would travel for you.”