Author: Alexandra Bracken
Genre: Young Adult | Romance | Time Travel
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
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 (goodreads).
This. I want more of this.
Plot: I typically have a hard time swallowing time travel books so approached Passenger with trepidation. I was surprised by how invested I was with this story, its world, and the characters.
Passenger throws you right into the action with Nicholas and his half-brother traveling in Bhutan and I will admit - it was disorienting. The characters talked about people, relationships, and ideas that I had no idea about, but it all came together when Etta arrived in his time period. Passenger was exciting, emotional, and a complex ride that I never wanted to end. I mentioned earlier that I usually have a hard time with time travel books, but Bracken took the time to explain the science behind traveling and its history.
Characters: First things first: Inter-racial relationships. AND. The lead male character is black.
I don't think you all understand how excited I was about that fact. I barely knew what Passenger was about when I picked it up, and when I saw that Nicholas was a freed slave I DIED. Maybe I should back up, Nicholas is mixed-race, but that basically meant black during his time period (and some could argue that it means black during out time period as well). He hails from the 18th century and wants nothing more than to receive the respect that he deserves.
Etta is a 21st-century girl with an emotionally-distant mother and under a lot of pressure to perform well at violin solos. When she and Nicholas meet the sparks fly. At first, I was a bit annoyed at how quickly they seemed to gravitate toward each other, but as they travel together and share their insecurities with each other, I became more invested and their biggest cheerleader.
What I loved the most about this book was how respectful Alexandra Bracken was toward different cultures and how well she portrayed them. There are great scenes where Etta has to think about her privileges as a white woman and how she is oblivious of how far women's rights have come. She is introspective and she wants to learn more about her world.
Worldbuilding: Alexandra Bracken gets a standing ovation from me in terms of worldbuilding. Her research is outstanding and I felt like I was in the realms she created. She researches the languages, the nuances, and the fashion to make each time period believable and unforgettable.
Short N Sweet: Don't walk, run to your nearest bookstore to buy Passenger.