January 14, 2016

Passenger - Alexandra Bracken

Title: Passenger
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Pages: 496
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads rating: 

About: 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.

I have an immediate two-fold reaction to things involving time travel: 1) too complicated.  No time travel story plays with exactly the same rules, so a significant portion of the store becomes establishing boundaries, and 2) it’s too easy to mess up your own timeline and that makes me so nervous.  But, it’s Alex Bracken, so I knew I was going to read it no matter what it was about.

First off, I want to say that I am 100% in love with this cover.  It’s freaking gorgeous, big gold star for the cover designer.

The beginning of this one was a little slow.  Because of the world building involved and having a narrator that is totally ignorant of the world she’s thrust into to there’s a lot of information to slog through. I really liked how time travel worked in this story – there are set passages that take you to certain places and certain years, but it’s always the same date that it is when you started.  So, like, if it’s January 5, 2015 and you go through a portal to 1940s London, it’s still going to be January 5th.

Both main characters are great, but I think Nicholas stands out just a little bit more for me.  He’s a pirate!  
Okay, he’s a privateer, which is like a legal pirate?  (Everything seemed very gentlemanly when he was overtaking the other ship’s crew in the beginning.)  Being the half-black, illegitimate son of the ruling time traveling family, based in the 1700s, he’s had a bit of a hard life.  All he wants is to get away from his terror of a family and spend his life in his own time, sailing the open seas.  That is, until Etta comes along.

He is tasked with “helping” Etta (read: making sure she doesn’t take off with it) bring a valuable time traveling artifact back to the Ironwood family.  Etta wants this artifact for her own purposes: to get back to her own time and save someone’s life. Also, you know, to keep it out of the hands of the corrupt Ironwood family.  I loved how Etta's mom had given her a map of sorts without actually giving her a map.  Or any idea that she could time travel.  Or that time travel was an actual thing.  Whatever, it was awesome.

Of course Nicholas and Etta fall in love along the way.  The build up of this relationship was perfect. There's a lot of denying their own feelings, which was frustrating, but in the best possible way.  I'm a sucker for a good 'this will never work' couple.  I really loved seeing how their views (stemming from their different time periods) on race affected their relationship.  Nicholas’s amazement that they would be able to dance together out in the open in her time was such a lovely moment.

Although there was a lot of set up to get through in the beginning, I loved Passenger.  Having an evil-ish ruling family and a treasure hunt through time was such cool way to see all different periods of history.  Etta and Nicholas have such a complex relationship and were the perfect duo to travel through time with.  Of course, we’re left with a little bit of a cliffhanger, so I can’t wait to see what Wayfarer brings!

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