Review: ‘Passenger’ by Alexandra Bracken

Review: ‘Passenger’ by Alexandra BrackenPassenger by Alexandra Bracken
Series: Passenger #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 5th, 2016
Genres: Historical, Love & Romance, Time Travel, Young Adult
Pages: 486
Format: Hardcover
Source: borrowed from the library
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

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Pirates, historical settings and time travel! This is pretty much the entire book and I gobbled it up! From the first page, I was already hooked. Bracken’s writing pulls you in and keeps you there until the very last chapter. I had no inkling as to what this book was about because I pretty much judged it from the cover, not having read the synopsis either. I’m so happy that I did that because it made me focus on other things and not how close it was to the description.

As for the characters? There’s Etta who is this driven violinist but has to overcome her stage fright. She also has a mother that she’s willing to do anything to please. I thought their relationship and their dynamics were interesting. Especially since they’re torn apart, and Etta has to learn how to deal without her mother to help. Then there’s the main love interest who is a POC! His history and his back-story were even more interesting than Etta’s. Naturally I gravitated towards both of them, wanting them to get together. A free-thinking independent 21st century teenage girl with a well-mannered 1920s young boy, how the year they were born in shaped who they were and who they could be. We both get to see the story unravel from their point of views and you can see the contrast of both. They travel to different parts of history and it was so fun to read about. There’s a slow burn romance with stolen glances and touches, which ends up with a lot of kissing scenes. There were a pretty cute couple if I might add. I had such fun imagining all the different eras they fell into.


The dialogue between people is formal, such manners! And how Etta realized how young the soldiers were. She experienced history like no one else could and it was shocking to her. Culture-shock almost. I also loved how there was a focus on racism and how Etta experienced it with her own eyes. It was heart-breaking and it made me think about the past myself. Like this quote that came from a character from the 15th century:

Isn’t it fair to say that slavery has been a boon to Africans? At the very least, it breaks them of their laziness and their barbaric violence—brings them into God’s flock. The work they do is fit for their capacities. (132)


Then Nicolas (who is African American) thinks:

What mattered was that these beliefs had swept through the souls of everyone like a plague. Even a hundred years in the future, he knew, the roots still had not been fully pulled up from society. Wherever, whenever he went, the colour of his skin set the boundaries of what he could achieve, and there was very little—if any—recourse for finding a way around it. (132)


Even though there were parts where the romance was too much, I never felt bored. I liked the story-line and the settings were just great fun to read about. I’m pretty sure any historical romance fan would love this book! Bracken’s writing is wonderfully crafted and now I’m itching to read her Darkest Minds series!

reading progress






  1. Hannah

    March 24, 2016 at 10:01 AM

    Great Review.
    This is definitely one that I keep seeing all over booktube and I really want to give it a go myself, so glad you enjoyed it. Enticed me into trying it for myself!

    • giselle

      March 24, 2016 at 11:15 AM

      Yess most definitely it’s been all over BookTube. Hope you like too Hannah!

  2. Sophia Rose

    March 17, 2016 at 6:48 PM

    Hmm, looks like it has more depth than I was anticipating from the blurb. Insightful review.
    Sophia Rose recently posted…Unforgiving by Christopher Kenworthy #AfternoonDelightMy Profile

    • giselle

      March 19, 2016 at 12:49 AM

      It sure does! I really liked it

  3. Preethi @ Fierce Reads

    March 17, 2016 at 9:52 AM

    I didn’t love this one, but I’m glad you enjoyed it! There were several parts of this book that had me bored, and the romance seemed very…predictable to me, which is why I couldn’t really invest in it. I’m still probably going to read the next one though, and I hope I like it more!
    Preethi @ Fierce Reads recently posted…The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica MorganMy Profile

    • giselle

      March 19, 2016 at 12:50 AM

      Aww yeah it was predictable but I still liked it for some reason. They were a cute couple. Hope you like the second one

  4. tonyalee

    March 17, 2016 at 9:16 AM

    Yay I am glad you enjoyed this one! I loved it too, and her writing is amazing. 🙂

    • giselle

      March 19, 2016 at 12:50 AM

      Soo good! Time traveling is always fun!

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