Hype or Like Meme

Hype or Like Friday: Book review Passenger, Alexandra Bracken

It's go time

The time has come for the first review of the book of the month for the Hype or Like Friday meme to be published! Check out the group on Goodreads to stay up-to-date with the discussion topics and monthly reads.


I was happy to see Passenger be chosen to be the first read of the group because the cover has been popping around the blogosphere for months and I was curious. Curious enough to read reviews and check comments about it but not enough to buy it as it did not fit into my favorite genres at the time.

If you happen to live on another planet or have managed to miss the hype around the book, here is the blurb:

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.

“But anything is possible with enough Rum and courage.”

Who’s there?

Etta is a regular teenager who has cut herself from everything to focus on her passion: the violin. Her world revolves around her mother, with who she has a complicated relationship, and her violin teacher. She doesn’t have anything else. I am not sensible to music in general. Yes, I cry if I hear a special song, but an instrument alone has never moved me. I am lyrics girl. Still, the recurrence of a certain musicality and the references to music, either in words spoken by Etta or in the writing itself did not bother me. I found it a good tool to try and understand Etta. You get to learn about her through the events and her reactions, I appreciated it better than if I had been told “she is blablabla.”

Now, let’s get to Nicolas. Contrary to Etta, Nicolas was born in the 18th century. He is a pirate with quite an interesting background. His presence brings an interesting contrast with Etta’s reactions to the places and times they visit. Their reactions are a mirror of their own society. Most other characters are familiar with time traveling, being able to adapt and fit in, but the rules of the century they were born in just never really fades away. It is also worth mentioning Nicolas is an Afro-American, and the subject is tackled throughout the book. I thought it was a nice touch to give depth to the story itself as well as the experience narrated. Also, isn’t it nice not to have a fair and tall blond guy with blue eyes and a killer smile as a love interest? Etta’s mother has a particular role in the story and the reader’s feelings towards her change as the story unfolds. Still, at the end of the book, I did not know if I liked her, understood her, or hated her.

Welcome to Passenger Airlines, we wish you a pleasant journey.

Dear authors, if you’re going for time travel, beware I am a Doctor Who fan (RTD era, not Moffat, please.).


If handled badly, your journey will leave the reader bored, confused or both. Thankfully, the matter was handled quite well in the Passenger. I won’t reveal where the story takes you but I was relieved (that being an euphemism) when the characters escaped the whole boat and pirates area. I am not a fan of pirates, legal or not. The transitions are smooth and do have a nice coherent feeling as we discover the entire time traveling process with Etta. Many details about each time and place are set for the reader to connect with the story and the problems encountered; clothes, manners, society issues. Nothing is left behind, Bracken has done her share of homework.

But she wondered if, in moving oustide of the natural flow of time, they had forgotten the most crucial point of life – that it wasn’t meant to be lived for the past, or even for the future, but for each present moment.

Etta is sent on a mission by someone she doesn’t know, surrounded by people she had never heard of before, far away from the regular life of a teenager. Imagine being told you can travel through time and space, that the closest people to you have left you in the dark about it, and that now you need to use your ability to save them by retrieving an ancient object. Said object being extremely dangerous if left in the wrong hands. Should Etta follow the orders or make sure the object, which was hidden for a reason, stays away forever? Everyone has an agenda, riddles need to be worked on, historical events come in the way, unwelcoming places are visited. All events build up a tension that reaches its peak at the end of the book. I felt just like Etta most of the time. The beginning left me confused, a little bored at time (thanks, pirates!) but once the quest began, I just had to keep going. On the side, and slowly making its way into the characters’ hearts is a love story that is hinted throughout the first part of the book, and becomes a major matter as we follow Etta and Nicolas’ adventure. Their relationship is not rushed or imposed on us out of nowhere but grows with the hardships both have to go through, which I thought was refreshing.

Love was selfish, wasn’t it? It made honest men want things they had no right to.

So, this means I am on the unpopular side of the boat. How do you do when you liked the book but believe the hype was not justified? My dilemma is bigger than Etta’s.

I am going with… LIKE IT.

Give it a try and let me know if you managed to finish it!

7 thoughts on “Hype or Like Friday: Book review Passenger, Alexandra Bracken”

  1. Everyone talked about how difficult it was to get into. I think that is why I stayed away from it, even though they all thought it was a wonderful book. I want to give it a try, but it is not at the top of my list right now. Great Review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And this is why I’ve decided to wait until I can get a copy from the library to read it!

    I am also a massive RTD-era Dr Who fan. It’s just not been as amusing since. One of my favourite bits was in the Christopher Eccleston series when he tells Rose he’s an alien and she says, “But you’re northern,” and he says, “Lots of planets have a north”. Genius 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, better borrow it. I wish I had bought it on amazon.us to be able to lend it.
      I got scared of myself when I realized I knew exactly what scene you were referring to, haha. So many great lines. I have hated 11 and gave Capaldi a try, but it’s just not so good any more.

      Liked by 1 person

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