Advance Review: Passenger

After falling in love with Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds series, I was anxiously anticipating the release of her new novel, Passenger. However, unfortunately it fell a little short for me. It took me and my buddy reader, Brett Michael Orr about a month to push through it.

Passenger follows Etta Spencer, a normal girl who is so dedicated to her music that she has left everything about a normal teenage life behind. Right before her debut, her entire life is thrown upside down as she suddenly no longer finds herself in the present time but in the 19th century and on a pirate ship. Etta must then go on a journey to save the natural timeline and her mother from the hands of the Ironwoods and the Thorns, the two enemy families.

Bracken cleverly developed an idea where passages have been created to link years from any time period together and allow a channel to be traveled through. This was a fresh and clever idea to expand on.

The book starts with a bang – two travelers searching for something and then disaster strikes (great way to start, am I right? Go straight for the drama). After the first chapter, I was left sitting on the edge of my seat wanting to read more. The use of interesting countries also left me wanting more, more, more. Finally, a book wasn’t just using the standard locations – London, New York… (as a standard and only base location). Instead we are wandering countries which are hardly mentioned in books such as Damascus.

Etta could also be pretty badass at times. For example, during her first dinner on the ship when Mr Wren was calling out Nicholas for his skin colour. Etta stood up for him and slapped him right across the face. You go, girl!

But that was where the magic just about stopped for me… After that, it went downhill and I was left struggling to get to the end of the book. Several times, I thought about DNF’ing but I stuck with it, forcing myself to get to the end. And believe me, it was hard and took a long time.

Etta and Nicholas had an adorable relationship. There were many times where I was left ‘aww-ing’ out loud. However the relationship felt too fast paced. They had only known each other for a few days and already they were putting their tongues down the other person’s throat. I realise that this is what happens a lot with the YA insta-love stories but it just felt too fast paced.

The chapters were often too long and containing way too much information which left me unsure of what was happening. A lot of the time, this information was either needing to be re-read several times to begin to understand or it just went straight over my head and I found myself just skimming over it.

Right from the beginning I was confused. Firstly, there were names such as Rose and Alice who were mentioned but weren’t explained until later on. So for several chapters and many pages, I was left wondering who these characters were and what relationship they had with the main character, Etta.

The plot is also confusing and not explained very well. For example, it was never clear who the bad guys were. Obviously Ironwood is one of them but then there were so many people wanting to kill Etta and Nicholas that I was left not knowing who was who. And if there are other enemies, what do they want? The same thing? Or something different?

The characters didn’t grab at me, they didn’t make me want to keep reading, they didn’t make me fall in love with them. I wanted to punch Sophia all the time, Etta could just be annoying and Nicholas was flat. The other characters just weren’t developed enough to understand and get to know. One character I did end up liking though was Hasan. He seemed like a fairly passionate and love filled character and I found his use of nicknames for both Etta and Nicholas to be endearing.

And lastly, there was a lack of climax, particularly at the end. The last few chapters are meant to be the bam-bam pages, where everything is happening at once and you’re left wondering how this is supposed to be concluded in such a small amount of time. But Passenger didn’t escalate in action enough for me which left the book feeling very flat and devoid of movement and direction.

After The Darkest Minds, I was left rather disappointed. I fell in love with Alexandra Bracken’s writing after The Darkest Minds but just felt that Passenger didn’t measure up. I wouldn’t say that it was horrible, but I didn’t enjoy it either. For a lot of it, I was lost and confused.


Overall, I give Passenger a shaky 3 stars

Have you read Passenger? What were your thoughts on it?



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