Young Adult/Time Travel
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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
Passenger is a stunning first installment, tackling the tricky topic of time travel in an easily understandable and emotionally challenging way as we consider both the “what if” questions our characters face as well as the ones we ask ourselves as we read.
Etta is a true gem of a heroine, coming face to face with an ability she never fathomed possible and shouldering the weight of a world-changing responsibility with only days to acclimate herself to her new circumstances. She doesn't panic, curl into the fetal position or otherwise rail at the enormity of what's being asked of her, instead she keeps a level head, treats everyone around her with respect (even those who frankly don't deserve it) and charges forward with more determination than know-how (through no fault of her own), while at the same time acknowledging just how far out of her depth she really is.
Her quiet romance with fellow Traveler Nicholas is everything we could hope for in a young adult relationship, the two of them finding moments in the sudden chaos of their lives to learn about one another; the attraction between them starting at surface level and slowly deepening until their feelings for one another come across as nothing other than completely genuine. Both are keeping secrets from the other with regard to their shared mission, but just as we start to feel the kiss of anxiety in the final quarter of the book–dreading the moment the truth will come to light–both opt for honesty and come clean to our ever-lasting relief.
We're left with what some may consider a cliffhanger, but it feels more (to me) like a simple pause in the action; a logical place to stop before a new kind of journey starts in the next installment. The fate of some characters is of course up in the air as is the ultimate outcome of Etta and Nicholas's time-hopping search, but we are treated to a number of answers about the villain's motivations, the basics of time travel as well as a brief history of the Traveling Families and their overall purpose, leaving us content with what we do know even as we look forward to discovering all that we don't as the series progresses.
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Alexandra Bracken was born and raised in Arizona, but moved east to study at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. She now writes full time and can be found hard at work on her next novel in a charming apartment overflowing with books. You can visit her online at www.alexandrabracken.com or on Twitter (@alexbracken).
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