Thursday 11 October 2018

Passengers by Alexandra Bracken - Review


by Alexandra Bracken

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Series: Passengers #1
Released: January 25, 2016
Publisher: Harper Collins Australia
Genre: YA Time Travel

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.

Passengers by Alexandra Bracken is a young adult adventure, time travel and historical novel. It follows our main characters; Henrietta (Etta) Spencer and Nicholas (Nick) Carter as they go on a scavenger hunt forced upon them by an evil, world domineering tycoon, and Nicholas' grandfather, Cyrus Ironwood. Etta is thrust into a world of time-travel (that she had no previous knowledge of), deceit, lies and family drama that spans centuries and lifetimes. Can she find this antique relic and family heirloom in time to save her Mother from Ironwood's evil grasp? 

Passenger is very well-written and well-researched. A strong first book, with a heart-stopping cliff-hanger for an ending. The different historical aspect and the different time eras was so vividly described that you feel like you are personally there, experiencing things as they are. This was my favourite aspect of the book, and I wish that we got to explore each era/place a bit more than what we did...which brings me to my second point. 

Pacing, the book was paced somewhat strange, in my opinion. It was quite a slow start and I understand that Bracken needed to really set the foundation for the story, but the first 100 pages were a tad tedious and even slightly confusing. There were a few times where I had to re-read to understand what was happening, but then after that it spiralled into adventure after adventure; visiting different times and places, but ever so quickly, that we are just introduced to it, but not able to fully immerse ourselves in it. This was somewhat disappointing since Alexandra Bracken's writing is so beautiful, and the description of each surroundings, people and era is just tangible, that I just wished we got to experience each location a bit more. 

Etta was an amazing character. She is strong, resilient, independent, courageous, brave and kind. I appreciate that she was not whiney, but I also found it very unrealistic how she jumped into this treasure hunt without much questions. She was far too keen to commence her journey, where she didn't really know what item she was looking for, where it was, what era it was in, or how she was going to find it since she has absolutely no knowledge of anything! However, once Etta deciphers that she does indeed know the clues; she was just so fantastic from there on...determined! 

Nick was bland for me, he was not the heroic main character I hoped he would be. I found him quite whiney and lacked the mental capabilities to help Etta out in this life and death journey. I found Etta brought more to the table than he did, despite him being taught everything about time travelling. He was just not as determined, strong and brave as Etta. I felt like he was quite useless at times. 

So onto Nick and Etta's relationship. I'm not really "feeling" it with these two. I felt Nick's instant infatuation with her strange and kind of creepy when he first met her on the boat. I do appreciate their love blossoming throughout the book, even then I felt that it was still a bit insta-love, which I'm not a huge fan of. I also did not think that it was realistic in the short time they had known each other that he was considering moving to the future with Etta! 

Etta's love for him, surprisingly enough, seemed more reserved, gradual and realistic. I did enjoy following Etta and Nick, but I liked it more for the plot itself rather than the characters. I do like their "partnership" to achieve a common goal, but beyond that, I just did not feel it. Maybe it's because I don't like Nick much. 

This book is such an anticipation-high journey, with a strong sense of adventure within it's pages. Being someone that enjoys travelling (places not time), this felt like I personally travelled to these wonderful places, in different eras, and that's how this book sung to my heart. 

I appreciate the amount of research that Alexandra did, to get Passengers to how it is. The sprinkling of actual historical events throughout the book also makes this story so much more relatable, it isn't simply a work of fiction. Having these events referenced throughout Etta and Nick's journey, made me feel like it's possible there is a traveller world, and we are none the wiser.

Passengers is original, well-researched and filled with adventures, danger, romance and so much more. Alexandra Bracken's writing, plot, and the weaving of real historical events make this novel so much more than just fiction. 

Despite the slow beginning, once your journey begins, it becomes extremely fast-paced with surprises at every turn, with morsels of information scattered throughout that will keep you wanting more. Even though I did not have a strong understanding of the theory that Bracken provided for the travelling world, I still found the parts I did understand to be unique and well-thought out. What I disliked about the book is far outweighed by the positive parts of the book.

This book will be loved by those who enjoy action packed adventure and history. Stay tuned for my upcoming review of Wayfarer, the conclusion to this duo-logy. 

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