A Time Traveling Adventure | Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Friday, January 13, 2017

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Publisher: Disney
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Pages: 496
Source: BEA
Add It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

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.

What's This About

Etta is going to be a professional violinist one day. She has been practicing for this very moment, but it shatters all at once when she is pushed over the door’s threshold at the museum and finds herself on a ship. Time traveling has been in her family for generations, it seems, but her mother never shared this world with her and it is beginning to become clear why. The Ironwood family has taken Etta’s mother hostage, to serve as motivation in Etta’s journey. Etta is sent on an impossible mission to recover the lost astrolabe, a piece that her mother has hidden far away. Given a coded letter, Etta must find the astrolabe and return it—with the help of Nicholas—or the Ironwoods will murder her mother.

Time Traveling Adventure

  • Confession time: I have never read an Alexandra Bracken novel. I went into this with absolutely no expectations but was so happily surprised at what Passenger offers. Bracken gives a lovely adventure that is both fast and fresh. 
  • The introduction—before readers get into the meat of the action—is set up perfectly. It is both simple but gorgeous in its flow to present the act of time traveling. The suspense is continuously building until Bracken allows for some answers to seep through the story. It’s definite genius! 
  • I kept seeing the novel like a movie inside my head (like with most novels) but the structure was so thought out and executed so well that I wish there was a movie adaptation; it would be amazing to see Passenger on the big screen.
  • Essentially, Passenger is about one thing, and one thing only. Etta has got to find the astrolabe. It's a scavenger hunt that spans centuries and countries. Such a hunt could have been dealt with in a much more exciting fashion. However, by giving readers a snippet of a place here or there, where the location spans just a chapter or two—the amount of time spent in one place is minimal, which takes the magic out of the settings. 


  • Etta is an amazing character. She is strong, fearless, and filled with so much spunk. 
  • Nicholas is very likable and relatable. As much as readers have seen his type before—the brooding, gorgeous guy with a dark past—it doesn’t stop me from loving him any less. 

Clever Structure on Point

  • Time traveling adventures always include some sort of backstory that has to make sense. You can’t just throw in some time traveling and have no explanation of how or why people can time travel. Bracken did a fantastic job in structuring the world in which Passenger resides. The clever scavenger hunt through multiple times and locations is a masterful weave of structure.
  • As much as the world of time traveling is on point, Passenger does suffer from massive information dumping on its readers. You could start off a chapter that is moving through Etta’s journey but it can quickly turn into too much history. The history, of course, is needed to understand the time traveling world. However, I do believe it could have been given to readers in smaller doses.

A "Supernatural" Ending

  • To avoid spoiling you who hasn’t read the book, the ending is superb, yet left me feeling cheated. It’s a weird feeling because here I was expecting someone was going to die and no one did. Like, wait a second, did I read that right? 
  • It leaves me reeling, ready for the sequel. Readers will definitely have more questions by the end than they do answers.


Passenger by Alexandra Bracken is a fantastical adventure, delving into a clever hunt for the lost astrolabe. Fans of time travel will certainly love this new series and begin counting down the days to the next installment. This fast, amazing tale will have readers begging for answers.

Passenger (1/5/16): 4 stars
Wayfarer (1/3/17): TBA

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