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Etta, a violin prodigy, loses everything she cares about on the night of a big concert. She quickly realizes that she has traveled hundreds of miles and years into the past with a stranger who has a dangerous agenda. As it turns out, she has inherited the ability to time travel from a side of her family she had never heard of before now. With Etta's arrival on Nicholas Carter's ship, he's pulled back to the Ironwood family, the family he has been trying to distance himself from, and the family are looking for a very valuable object that they believe only Etta can find. In order for Nicholas to protect Etta, he'll have to make sure she gets it to them, whether she wants to or not. Nicholas and Etta will have to travel through time and space in order to locate this object that someone has gone to great lengths to make sure that it wouldn't end up in the hands of the Ironwoods. As they get closer to the truth and the dangerous game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces try to separate Nicholas and Etta, as well as prevent Etta from finding her way home.
I was really hoping to like Passenger by Alexandra Bracken much more than I did. It was one of my most anticipated books of 2016, but it just kind of fell flat for me even though it appeared to have so much going for it - first and foremost, it's a time travel novel and I can't resist when it comes to time travel; secondly, it sounds as if it could be a swashbuckling adventure on the high-seas, with a dash of romance; and thirdly, the main character is a violin prodigy. Now, the novel has its moments, but overall I was underwhelmed and let down by the story.
Since I usually like time travel so much I'll begin there. In key moments where the hows and whys are being explained I found myself in a mild state of confusion throughout, especially when it comes to the families, and the full extent of their motivations. I was hoping for time travel that was as cool and well done as this:
But, for the most part, I felt like this when the characters go into detail on the subject:
Now, I also had it in my mind that it would be a swashbuckling adventure story, but it doesn't really classify as that either, even though we are introduced to many places around the world and in time. A big part of this is because the pacing is quite slow and the novel takes a long while to get anywhere. The first half of the novel was bogged down and dragged in comparison to the second, which did took off as we get to see some exotic locales and time periods.
Etta and Nicholas, our leading characters that have alternating point of view chapters, are good on their own, but when they meet its practically a case of instalove and neither can stop thinking about the other. It got old fast, since they don't really have any chemistry together and their relationship feels forced. Personally, I preferred Nicholas over Etta considering his background with the Ironwoods. I felt like I should have liked Etta more, but in the sea of strong female characters very little makes her stand out. Except, for the fact that she is a violin prodigy, which doesn't matter at all in the long run.
Overall, I had high hopes for Alexandra Bracken's newest novel, Passenger, but it didn't live up to my expectations. It had its moments, but I believe it could have been pared down from nearly five hundred pages to become more manageable and tightly woven, with more clearly explained time travel to boot (although, honestly, the time travel was still my favorite part). There's so much potential here, but in the end it doesn't live up to the premise and I found myself disappointed by the time I closed the book.
I read this novel from April 2 - 7, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.