by Alexandra Bracken

Genre: YA Science-Fiction
Published: January 5th 2016
by Disney Hyperion




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.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies. 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.


Passenger has an amazing premise, but, unfortunately the execution – the writing specifically – just isn’t up to par with the creative concept.

Etta Spencer is about to make her debut as a professional violinist when suddenly she is transported back in time. She learns that a secret time travel organization is holding her mother hostage and the only way to save her is to follow clues directing her to a long lost artifact hidden somewhere in the depths of time.

Etta is an admirable protagonist and it’s difficult not to root for her. She is determined, she is talented, and she is tenacious.

“I’m playing,” she told her instructor. “I don’t care what you think, or if you believe in me—I believe in myself, and there is literally nothing in this world that can keep me from playing.”

My difficulty with the book was the writing. The passages are extremely long-winded: there are pointless and unnecessary descriptions that are in need of editing. With so many pointless details, it’s hard to stay entertained.

The historical settings are what makes the story shine. Searching for the lost artifact, Etta travels centuries and continents – specifically 1776 New York, World War Two era London, 1685 Angkor, 1880 Paris and 1599 Damascus. It’s clear each setting is well-researched and accurate.

If not for the long-winded writing style, I would have enjoyed this much more. Unfortunately, the writing took what could have been an extremely engaging and action-packed story and dulled it down. However, the historical settings and the protagonist are superb.


59 thoughts on “Passenger

  1. I didn’t really love this one either–the concept was cool but the instalove and the slow pacing just did not work for me. I actually loved this author’s writing style in her other books, but it wasn’t the best here.

    Great review, Zoe! 🙂

    1. It sounds like we were both a bit disappointed with this Ellie. 🙁 Sorry the pacing or the romance didn’t work for you either. Thank you!

  2. This book looks interesting. I think that the historical aspect would spark my interest, and plus the cover actually drew me to it. However I’m unsure because you said that it was kind of dull, so I guess I’ll have to see! Thanks for the Review Zoe!

    1. Thank YOU for the lovely comment Emily! The premise is definitely amazing and the historical elements are really well-researched, it’s just the pacing that made me feel a bit meh about it.

  3. Okay, I felt the EXACT same way as you, Zoe. Fantastic premise. Fantastic historical elements. But serious, serious issues with both the pacing and the writing. It’s so… needlessly dense? I don’t even know which adjective I’d use. But so far all my friends loved it and I was beginning to question if I’d just imagined it all. You just made me feel not-crazy. So, obviously, LOVE this review.

    1. YES. So glad I’m not the only one who felt that way Lexie! I feel if the whole book was cut down by ≈ 150 pages then this would have been great. 😐 Thanks Lexie!

  4. So I literally just borrowed this from the library and I’m reconsidering my life choices. XD I reeeeally don’t like long-winded books. I mean, I rarely find a book over 400 pages that I think NEEDED to be that long. And this sounds like a prime example of that fact. :O Gah. I really enjoyed the Girl From Everywhere though, soooo I’d hoped there would be an epic time-travel genre rise of awesome. MABYE NOT.

    1. I’m actually really curious to see what you think about this Cait. Let me know what you think of it if you decide to give it a try, okay?

  5. You know, I seem to come across review of this one that are either really, really positive . . . or not so much. I’m one of those weird people who LOVE long-winded books (as long as I like the writing — for example, I ADORE Tolkien) so maybe, if I like the writing and the concept, this one might be more for me. 🙂

    1. If you like long-winded books, you’d probably really like this Kara. 🙂 Let me know what you think if you decide to give it a try, okay?

  6. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one! I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve heard a few people saying similar things to you. The premise sounds amazing, but I struggle as it is through long descriptions. I love the sound of the violin playing though – although I’m a clarinet player (and we’re pretty much enemies with string players!) I love all books about music. Thanks for sharing your thoughts – amazing review! ♥

    Denise | The Bibliolater

    1. If you’re not much of a fan of long-winded descriptions, it’s probably best to skip this one. It’s a shame because the musical aspects and the premise are amazing. 🙁

  7. I’m sorry you didn’t like this one more. I’ve been thinking about getting it but I was afraid of all the initial hype – so I’m still waiting for more reviews to come in.
    I recently enjoyed The Girl From Everywhere a lot, it also features a ship and time travelling through interesting historical locations (most notably Hawaii), and it was a really good read, especially for a debut, if you’re interested.

    1. Oooh! I actually just requested it from the library a few days ago, but now you’re making me really excited to give it a try! Hopefully it’s not as long-winded as this one. Thanks for the recommendation Kaja! 🙂

  8. That’s such a shame you didn’t enjoy the writing style of this! I’m about half-way through it at the moment and absolutely loving it! I think this sort of writing style is similar to my own though, so I find it very easy to read. Great review xx

    1. I’m so glad you’re liking it so far! I can definitely see why the writing style would appeal to people – the description is amazing. It just wasn’t for me unfortunately.

  9. I keep hearing that about this book, the premise is wonderful but the execution let it down 🙁 I have a copy but am not quite ready to read it myself just yet. It sounds like it’s going to be a bit of a disappointment :/

  10. Sadly I had the same issues too Zoe, it was just so bloody long. I loved the premise, the settings and especially the characters but it was just so… Wordy. I’m sorry you couldn’t have enjoyed this more poppet, but wonderful review nonetheless <3

  11. Oh no! I loved The Darkest Minds, so I am hoping to love this, too. But I admit, I haven’t read it yet in fear of it letting me down and not comparing to TDM. But I’ll have to give it a shot, if only for the time travel. There needs to be more time travel based books!

  12. Ugh. You basically confirmed the fears I had for this one. See, I enjoyed the characters and world building in The Darkest Minds, but as the series went on, I was SO BORED. Like you said, it was just plain long winded- and didn’t need to be! So I started Passenger, back in November, but it was the uncorrected BEA proof, and I had heard it had changed a lot. Plus I was just not in a great place like, personally, so I set it down after about 55 pages. I won a finished copy, and wanted to give it another go, but… I mean, if it is going to ALL be like those first 55 pages, I am in trouble. Sorry this didn’t work for you, but thanks for the great review!

    1. This is about twice as long as TDM, so if you were bored in that book you’re going to pretty much be asleep here Shannon. It’s a shame, because the premise is absolutely amazing. And thank you for the lovely comment!

  13. Oh wow, I’m sorry you didn’t like this one. I’m generally not such a fan of time travel, and although I do have this sitting on my shelf I’m not in such a rush to start reading it. Great review, hope your next read is better! 🙂

    1. If you’re not much of a fan of time travel, this one probably isn’t going to be for you Anissa. 🙁 Thank you though!

    1. The premise is amazing! I’m curious to see what you think of it when you read it. Hopefully you like it more than I did!

    1. Definitely get it from the library or try a sampler and see whether the writing style clicks for you. Definitely curious to see what you think if you end up reading it. 🙂

  14. Aw, that’s sad to hear! I’ve read some positive reviews and I’ll admit, this is the first negative one I’ve read. But it’s always good to see both sides of the story, right? I hope you enjoy the next book you read!

  15. I’ve heard SO much about Passenger, but the synopsis always seemed a little vague to me. I really don’t like long winding desriptions either – they just take the fun out of everything.

    Great review, and I hope your next read is FAB!

    1. Thank you Aditi! If you’re not a fan of long-winded winded writing, this probably wouldn’t be for you either. It’s a shame because the premise is absolutely amazing. 🙁 Thank you!

  16. Everyone seems to be reading this book lately! Am I the only one that haven’t read it? *cries* I heard about the same thing as you said. Most people loved the historical settings but hated the writing style. Long-winded writings tend to turn me off too! I want actions, not descriptions XD Great review Zoe!

    1. Yeah, it seems that most people have felt the same way, which is a shame because the premise had so much potential. Thank you! <3

    1. Yeah, it seems a lot of people have been feeling the same way. 🙁 Which really is a shame because the concept is fantastic. Curious to see what you think of it when you read it Charnell!

    1. Thanks Marie! If you’re not a fan of long-winded writing, then this probably wouldn’t be for you. It’s a shame because the premise really is fantastic. Definitely let me know if you end up reading it!

    1. If you’re not a huge fan of books with unnecessary details, this probably won’t be up your alley either. 🙁 Let me know if you ever decide to give it a try though!

  17. I felt EXACTLY the same way Zoe. I loved the premise, the historical setting and even Etta, but it was just so pretentiously LOOOOOONG. I loved her Darkest Minds series, but what is it with her books and taking a billion years to get through them? It just felt like so much filler and I still have no idea why Etta was a musician, it added nothing to the storyline at all. Glad you were still able to enjoy aspects of this one Zoe, I’m still undecided if I’ll continue with the series. Fabulous review nonetheless <3 <3

  18. Great review! I haven’t read Passenger yet, but it has been on my TBR for quite a while. I DNFed The Darkest Minds because I wasn’t that much of a fan of her writing style, but hopefully Passenger will be better. :/

    1. If you weren’t a fan of her writing style in The Darkest Minds, it just gets even more drawn out and wordy here. 🙁 Let me know what you think of it if you decide to read it, okay?

  19. Oh man! What a bummer! I haven’t read this yet but I am sorta looking forward to it. I LOVED all of TDM series so I excited to read more of her. I like historical fiction a lot so hopefully I enjoy the descriptiveness – we will see…

    1. Yeah, it really is a shame because the premise is amazing. 🙁 Let me know what you think if you decide to read it, okay?

  20. I felt very similarly about this one! It was an amazing premise but somehow, put together, it just lacked too much for me to fall for it. I don’t think I’ll be picking up the sequel but I do still want to give Bracken’s previous trilogy a try. She’s innovative–I have to give her that! Fantastic review, Zoe!

    1. Thank you Keertana! It seems a lot of people have felt the same way, which is such a shame because the premise has so much potential. 🙁

  21. Aw, I’m sad you didn’t like it. =/ I really liked The Darkest Minds, so I ordered this one as soon it came out, but haven’t actually had the time to read it yet. I keep hearing bad things about it, but I’m hoping I’l find something to enjoy anyway!

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