Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
on January 5th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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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, his passenger, can find. In order to protect her, Nick 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.
I will write a review for this book, but really I can sum it up in two words: hard work.
Very long, very slow, very boring. Literally the only thing I liked about this book was that the male love interest was African American (because that is sadly still way too uncommon). But it was at least 150 pages too long – and I’m not sure cutting the length could liven up the pace – and very easy to put down. If I had not been reading an ARC and also didn’t want to get harassed by Bracken fans for writing a DNF review, there is no way I would have made myself suffer through this.
I didn’t love Bracken’s The Darkest Minds – truth be told, I thought that got really slow too once they escaped – but time travel and pirates was a premise worthy of a second chance. However, my issues started straight away with the writing style. There was something so formal and distant about the third-person narrative. It lacked any warmth or personality to help me connect with the characters or truly get sucked into the story.
There are many lengthy passages full of clothing descriptions and repeated introspection. The first part of the book goes on and on about violins and compositions, the next part is all about sailing, then we finally got to the time travel and I was already falling sleep.
The Chaconne was considered by most, including herself, to be one of the most difficult violin pieces to master–a single progression repeated in dozens of dizzying, complex variations. It was emotionally powerful, and structurally near perfect.
His clothes were well-worn, rumpled from days of work and travel, and he seemed unbothered by it even as Sophia fussed with the gown and beat the road dust from the skirt. She had patted on more perfume of some kind, but Etta focused on the scent of him – it was cool breezes and sunshine and rum.
Honestly, who cares??
All these lengthy but pointless passages added pages to the book but no depth. It’s actually hard to single out individual quotes to demonstrate how so much of this book was filler, small details dragged out with unnecessary description.
I wouldn’t quite call the romance between Etta and Nicholas “instalove” but it is set up from Nicholas’ very first moon-eyed description of Etta. It’s actually pretty slow burn, but as with the romance in The Darkest Minds, it was completely unneeded and lacking in tension or chemistry. The author never took the time to convince me that the two of them had some spark between them, I think I was supposed to just understand that: “He was a boy, she was a girl, can I make it any more obvious?”
Add to this pages-long conversations of info-dump (so, so many of these) about time travel, the “families”, and the characters’ pasts, and you have one very dull book. Almost 500 pages of flat, dull narrative that never reached a heart-pounding climax.
I'm Emily May - a twenty-something year old book blogger from the North of England. Currently going wherever the wind or the storyline takes me. Find me on Goodreads
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