Passenger by Alexandra Bracken Review (Passenger #1)


Title: Passenger
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Published: 2016
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Length: 486 pages
Rating: ★★★★☆

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.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for so long, but a) the intimidation factor of its length, and b) school causing me to be ridiculously busy, has left it sitting on my shelf for months. After feeling particularly pathetic on the 29th of April, as I realized that I had not completed any books during the month (yet again), I decided to just bite the bullet and power through Passenger- and I’m really, really glad I did. 



The packaging for Passenger is ridiculously beautiful. Its sleeve is gorgeous, as you can see in the picture, and the book itself is just as beautiful bare.

Courtesy of Alexandra Bracken’s Tumblr

Look at it!! The title of the book is printed on the spine in the same beautiful silver as the tree on the cover. Passenger has, by far, the most beautiful packaging that I have seen in a very long time.  


Writing Style: 


Alexandra Bracken’s writing style is undeniably beautiful, and she’s very skilled at organizing and structuring a story (as seen in The Darkest Minds series)- Passenger is no exception to this. We get to see more of her ability to write prose in Passenger than we do in The Darkest Minds, and while it’s more often than not beautiful, it can also get a bit tedious. I found that during some parts of Passenger, my mind would almost drift from what was happening on the page due to the excess wordiness and floweriness. This wasn’t so big of an issue that it detracted from my overall enjoyment of the book, though- it could just get to be a bit much at times. 



I loved Nicholas, really liked Etta, adored the crew of The Challenger, enjoyed Sophia (surprisingly), and loathed Cyrus Ironwood.

Rather than immediately falling in love with Etta, I definitely grew to be fond of her character. Towards the beginning of the book, I found her to be irritatingly impulsive (I hate when characters/people don’t think before acting) and exasperatingly stubborn, but her character definitely grew on me. She became a lot more open minded about a lot of different things with her travels, and while she was still impulsive, it was kept (mostly) in check. She’s also really intelligent and sharp, and I really enjoyed being able to read from her POV while she was putting together the pieces of her past with the realities of her ever-changing present timeline(s). 

On the other hand, I loved Nicholas almost immediately. It was amazing to be able to read about a main character that’s a PoC in such a publicized and widely known book that also fully acknowledged the specific hardships and conditions that he had to go through due to his race alone, but my love for him goes further than that. He was just very well written for a first book in a series, as well as in general- even when he did things that could technically be seen as despicable, we as readers feel like we understand him to the point of it being understandable. 

Overall, Nicholas emerged as my favorite character in this book, but I believe that all of these characters have a lot of room for growth, depth, and development. It’s difficult for characters to be fully established in the first book of a series, so I have a lot of hope for their development in the next book in the series. 



Before reading the book, when the only things I had heard about its plot had been from Goodreads and from BookTubers, I wasn’t too intrigued by the concept of time travel. Honestly, it’s a concept that’s always freaked me out more than interested me- I was more excited about the pirates! Pirates are basically my favorite thing ever. But after reading the book, time travel has officially become one of my new favorite concepts. I was just so fascinated by the idea of Travelers and passages, and I loved all the different places in the world they were able to travel to, and at any given time. 

I thought that, for the most part, while the plot was not fast paced, it was still alluring and captivating, and could be quite touching at times- especially in the scenes concerning Alice. However, there were times where the plot could become too slow moving, to the point where I’d nearly get bored. This is something that often occurs in the first book of a series, as the first book works to set up and establish a central plot- along with this, I also noticed that there could be a lot of information dumps throughout the story that could almost be overwhelming. 

I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the plot twist/cliffhanger at the end- I felt as if it was written in more for the sake of shock factor rather than for actually furthering the plot, but at least it should make things interesting in the second book of the series! 

But ultimately, by the end of the book, I was utterly consumed by the concept of time travel, and am now really jealous of the travelers in this book for being able to travel to any era that they wish, and for being able to start over whenever and wherever they want. I’m really excited to read more about this concept in the second book in the Passenger series, and I hope we get to see more of The Challenger and its crew! 



Overall, I would definitely say that I loved Passenger! I think it was a really solid, engaging, and well written first book of a series that I’m sure I will enjoy and adore in its entirety. I would most definitely recommend it to anyone on the fence about reading it, and would love to hear the thoughts of those who have already read it! 


6 thoughts on “Passenger by Alexandra Bracken Review (Passenger #1)

  1. Oooh, I can’t wait to read Passenger now! I’m not sure how I feel about it having a cliffhanger though – I may hold off on reading it until the next book in the series is out. That being said, I’m really excited to read it because of the plot. I’m actually a huge fan of anything science fiction, so time travel is right up my alley! Fantastic review, Katherine! 🙂

    1. Ahh, thank you so much! Yeah, I’m definitely super open to the concept of time travel now – I really want to get my hands on more books that deal with it as a main plotline. And that’s actually a pretty good idea! I’m already so curious about the second book, haha 🙂

  2. So good to hear you enjoy this! I’ve been hearing a lot of mixed reviews and I’m a bit intimidated by the size, but when I see positive reviews it makes me feel less nervous haha. I’m hoping to get to it sometime this month. Great review!

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