Written by Beth Winters
Yes, it has been a while. But there have been so many new books to choose from that I could barely choose one! No worries, though. I picked. I read. And I… disliked.
I just finished reading “Passenger” by Alexandra Bracken, a book I really wanted to like. “Passenger” has a premise that I thought I was sure to love. It involves time travel, pirates, adventure, musicians—what more could I ask for?
However, so many parts of this book are not what I expected, and not in a good way.
“Passenger” is the first book in a duology. I know that the first book in any series needs to facilitate world-building. That said, though, there is a little too much world-building in this one.
The beginning of Bracken’s story is simple. A musician goes to a concert. A musician ends up time traveling. A musician demands answers. The part where said musician, Etta Spencer, demands answers is about 30 pages in. Then, it feels as though you are reading through 40 pages that detail how Etta and another girl do nothing more than answer each other’s questions.
At first I was really excited about those explanatory pages and that Bracken illustrates how the time traveling aspect of the story works. But after 10 pages of these two characters talking, I thought it was time to move on. Sometimes it is better to explain things as you go instead of data dump, as happens in portions of “Passenger.”
Then there are new aspects of the story that actually do need explanation, which is at least done over the course of the remainder of the book, granted at some points it seems like Bracken gives readers way too much detail.
I am not even sure I like Etta. I like that she is a musician and that she is headstrong, but that alone is not enough to make the character great. And Nicholas Carter, another main character, is constantly protecting Etta, which can get annoying after a while. Can’t Etta stand up for herself every now and then?
Even the so-called “villain” gets to be obnoxious. Why? Because he, too, is associated with a data dump.
Let’s change gears and talk about the setting, which, again, is unexpected. For a story about time travel, the characters certainly do not travel to many places or times. They travel to a small handful, but only a few get fleshed out.
Maybe Bracken picked the locations she did—one rainy, one desert, one war zone, one colonial—to make readers feel that there is a large, varietal range. To me, though, the desert, war zone and colonial locales are already done too often in books by other authors.
I would have enjoyed reading about time travel to locations that are more unique. When was the last time you read a book in which a character traveled to the Middle Ages? Or even Pompeii? I do not think I have read anything with settings resembling those locations since the "Magic Tree House" series by Mary Pope Osborne!
The fourth location the characters travel to, that of a jungle, is the most interesting to me, but the characters sadly do not spend much time there.
I wish I had more positive things to say about “Passenger,” especially since it is the first book of Bracken’s I have read. I am hoping her book “The Darkest Minds” is more to my taste than “Passenger” is.
If you like Bracken’s books already, read “Passenger.” Otherwise, skip it.
Title: Passenger (Passenger #1)
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publication date: January 5, 2016
Page count: 496
List price: $17.99
About the Nook
The Nook is a collective space where Reviewers share their thoughts on and reactions to the books they have just finished reading. Have something to say in response to a Reviewer's entry? Add a comment! Consider Reviewers your virtual book buds. You can also check out individual Reviewers' diaries to get a sense each one's unique tastes and ideologies.