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Time Travel Adventure | Book Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

The new year will be off to a great start with Passenger, a time-travel adventure!

Book Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

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passenger alexandra bracken book review

Title & Author: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Genre: Young Adult – Science Fiction, Time Travel

Release Date: January 5, 2016

Series: Passenger #1

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

How I Got the Book: ARC via the publisher


“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”

Excellent Start to 2016

Passenger has received a lot of buzz because it’s a new series from The Darkest Minds author Alexandra Bracken. Well, let me tell you, the buzz is deserved!

Time travel is one of a few 2016 YA book trends, and Passenger is a fantastic start to the trend.

While you might expect futuristic elements, this book sticks to past places and times (for a few very logical and well-explained reasons). So there is more of a historical fiction feel to it than I expected, which means a lot of great old-timey phrases and ideas.

In fact, one of the main characters, Nicholas Carter, is black. He works on a ship at sea and often faces rude looks and poor treatment.

This aspect of the book is so key. Bracken does a great job of presenting issues of race, gender and historical oppression without being heavy-handed or preachy.

With science fiction books, I’m always curious to see how the author handles the science part of the story. Will there be a lot of detail or will my mind need to fill in the blanks? How much technical jargon and detail will create the right tone?

Passenger offers enough insight to keep detail-oriented readers pacified but doesn’t go so in-depth that I felt overwhelmed. Bracken struck a really great balance.

Not to mention, this isn’t a leisurely visit to sight see in history. The other main character, Etta, was ripped from her time in modern day New York City to become a pawn in a game involving people and family she had no idea existed, which you can imagine creates quite the dramatic situation.

Other things to note:

  • There’s a slow burn romance – no love triangles here!
  • I loved the changes of scene – each time and place was obviously chosen with care
  • The treasure hunt within the story was just plain fun to follow

I’m so glad next year will be off to a great start with Passenger!


You’ll want to put this book at the top of your list. It offers excitement, pure and simple. Passenger is a book I wanted to keep reading because I loved the characters, I felt the tension of racing against the clock and ultimately I wanted more, which is the highest compliment I can give.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • I love this review. This is one of my most highly anticipated books for next year. I am so glad to hear that it lives up to the hype!

  • Stephanie

    Awesome review, glad you liked it, Lisa! It sounded really interesting and now I’m even more excited to read it!