Series: Passenger #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 5, 2016
Genres: Mystery & Detective, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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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
Time Travel is always a complicated subject. Many times, you get an author who just says “screw it, I don’t care how it works, they just travel through time”. Or you get the overly scientific BS that sounds plausible but is just ludicrous enough to make those of us who took a high school physics class snort in derision.
Passenger falls somewhere in between the two, leaning more on the fantastic, magical end of the spectrum, which I think is a great place for time travel to land.
Passenger follows the story of Etta and Nicholas, two kindred souls from very different times and backgrounds. Etta is from our time, living with her successful mother, and is a violin virtuoso. Nicholas is African American, from the 1700’s; although he himself is a free man, he lives in a time where even that declaration is tenuous as best. When Etta is kidnapped and finds herself on Nicholas’ ship, she learns that she is part of a family of time-travelers, one that her mother tried her best to escape from and never see again. Etta, along with Nicholas, sets off on a course to find an artifact that her mother stole from the Ironwoods, the family in control of most of the Passengers (time-travelers). But along the way, they discover feelings for each other that complicate everything, and they struggle with doing what is right versus doing what is easy.
I LOVED Etta and Nicholas’ relationship, first of all. It wasn’t necessarily the tippy-top most important plot, but it was surprisingly more present than I expected it to be. I’ve seen that as a negative in some reviews, but you know me: I’m all about the romance. It was fascinating to see how they dealt with the differences in their upbringings. Etta comes from modern day, where racism still exists, but obviously in a much weaker form than it was in the 1700’s. She’s a strong, likable, I’m going to figure out how to take care of myself kind of heroine. Nicholas knows about time-travel and has visited other times (though nothing past the 1920’s), but it was lovely seeing him grow and change in the way he interacted with Etta. There really was a considerable amount of romance once you hit the 2/3 point, quite a bit more than I was expecting.
I also LOVED the different time periods and settings. It was great fun to be in 1940’s London at one moment and then 1600’s Angkor, in the middle of the jungle. A lot of the plot revolves around solving the mystery of where Etta’s mother hid the astrolabe (the artifact that the Ironwoods want back), so much of the story is driven by discovering clues and trying to figure out where they’re supposed to travel next. The different settings and times were lushly detailed, and I loved the wide variety of places they visited.
I do agree with many people that around the middle, this book slows WAY down. I almost marked it as DNF somewhere around 45% because I was pretty bored. But then about a chapter later the traveling began, so it picked back up. But just a warning, there is a slow section in the middle, that really feels like a lot of work. Try to press on, because the second half of the books flies.
This book reminded me a bit of A Thousand Pieces of You Claudia Gray, although, obviously different main plots- but if you enjoy that sort of book with all the different time periods and settings (and who wouldn’t?) I can definitely say this book is for you. There is an emphasis on the romance, and again, it lags quite a bit in the middle. But Etta’s race to find the astrolabe and save her mother will have you on the edge-of-your seat, while Etta and Nicholas’ adorable romance will have you swooning, and the ending will have you saying WHY ALEXANDRA BRACKEN WHY?
Content: Kissing, fade to black sex (not graphic), some violence. Recommended for 15+