Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
Book One of the Passenger series
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
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
What I Liked:
This book has so much buzz surrounding it, which can be good and bad. I loved Bracken's Brightly Woven, and Darkest Minds series, and I had a good feeling that I would enjoy this one too. It's just scary when everyone is really excited about reading the book, very few people have actually read it, and you so want it to be amazing! Lucky for me (and others), it WAS amazing.
Etta's next concern is her violinist debut, which she'll perform in a month or so. She's performing in the Met, where her mother works, when she is suddenly whisked away in time, accompanied by a strange girl who was also at the met. Sophia Ironwood, the girl, is a traveler, and so is Etta. Sophia's grandfather, the Grand Master and head of the Ironwood family, has had Etta brought back in time because he wants her to find something that he says her mother stole from him. If she brings it back, he'll let her and her mother go. But Etta - and Nicholas Carter, who commandeered the ship that Etta had to be on to get to Grandfather Ironwood - won't let Ironwood win so easily. Nicholas and Etta will travel between continents and time to find the missing object before anyone else does.
I'm going to be honest - I'm struggling to write this review, because I know I won't do this book justice. I know I'm giving it four stars (4.5 stars, really), but gosh, this book was lovely. It's written in third-person (which I love), occasionally alternating POVs, between Etta and Nicholas. We start with Nicholas, in the beginning of the book, which I thought was interesting.
Nicholas dreams of owning his own ship (preferably SHIPS), and freeing himself from the Ironwood family. Once you get caught in their web, they never let you go - but Nicholas is hoping that this last trip will be his last for them. Carry two women to New York safely, and he's free. But Nicholas has good instincts, and knows something is not quite right, when Etta is confused and lost and has no idea what she is. Nicholas is such an eighteenth-century gentleman - protective, loyal, strong-willed, stubborn, well-mannered - but he is also so much more. His past and his connections with Ironwood haunt him in ways that I won't mention, but it's so sad to see how people treat him.
I really like Etta as well - her first appearance on the ship was PERFECT. We meet her in present-day America, when she is about to play in the Met. She's a violin prodigy, but she's about to discover that she is also a time-traveler, and that her mother kept a whole lot from her. On the ship in the eighteenth-century, Etta is confused and doesn't know what is happening, and immediately jumps to defend herself (something you wouldn't see from an eighteenth-century lady). Everyone on the ship falls for her - but especially Nicholas, who doesn't leave her side, when she meets Ironwood, when Ironwood tells her his terms and threats, when Etta leaves and tries to escape... Nicholas and Etta agree to journey together across time, and probably for the better, because Etta is not a good traveler.
This story was so interesting! Filled with different countries and times, we got to experience a whole range of settings. Bracken really did her research, and every scene felt fresh and unique and different. The jungle one was probably my favorite, as it was a lush setting, but also really defined Nicholas and Etta's relationship (they are so funny!). They have days to find the mysterious object and bring it back for Ironwood, and so they follow clues that Etta's mother left her over time. The clues take them to many places, and Nicholas and Etta get to know each other.
The romance... ahh, it was beautiful. Nicholas is different from Bracken's other male protagonists, like a combination of Liam and North. He's bossy and manly yet gentlemanly and chivalrous. And Etta is like a flame or a constant spark. I loved the relationship growth, how they grew with and into each other, how things developed. This book is nearly five hundred pages long, so you can bet that there is a lot of character development AND romance development. The romance is very slow-burn, although the interest in each other happens quickly.
The climax of this story was so enthralling, heart-pounding, and terrifying! This book ends on a cliffhanger, which made me very sad but also quite hopeful. The cliffhanger is kind of a devastating one, but you know it's going to be not as bad as you think because of a few lines in the very end. Suffice it to say, I NEED Wayfarer, immediately. This ending was cruel!
What I Did Not Like:
I think the ending is what is docking this book's star (or half-star, really). It's a cliffhanger, and a brutal one, at that. Prepare your hearts, readers! And I GUARANTEE you, it's not the ending you might be thinking of. I would never have come up with this ending - and I'm usually pretty good at predicting endings, before getting more than halfway into the book. This cliffhanger though!
Would I Recommend It:
I SO recommend this book! I'm not usually a fan of time-travel novels - I did LOVE the Ruby Red series by Kerstin Gier - but this book was excellent. The time-travel is a bit different, as is the aim of the story. I can't wait to see how everything ignites in Wayfarer - the ending of this book was cruel in several ways. You don't have to be a time-travel or historical fiction to love this book!
4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. Such a gorgeous cover, AND a wonderful story - you must preorder this book! Definitely buy or borrow a copy, you do not want to miss this novel. The hype and buzz is totally justified! Now, someone bring me the sequel, please. PLEASE.
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