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Passenger - Review by Becca, Teen Blogger

Passenger is the first installment in a young adult fantasy duology-to-be by Alexandra Bracken. It’s a wonderfully refreshing twist on the old, popular genres it bravely takes on. It’s fast-paced and exciting, and at the same time, smooth and syrupy sweet. Bracken does a wonderful job of blending the many aspects of her novel—adventure, first love, historical, time travel—without any one theme overshadowing the other.

One of the many fantastic characters in Passenger is co-protagonist Henrietta Spencer, the seventeen-year-old violin prodigy from New York City in the 21st century. She’s smart, spunky, ultra-dedicated to her music—and the daughter of a runaway time traveler. Then there’s Nicholas Carter, an 18th century pirate employed by the American colonies; a hardened, harrowed sailor without a penny to his name, bearing a hidden heart of gold and a diamond’s twinkle in his eye. They’re hundreds of miles away, thousands of years apart—and all it takes to bring them together is one passage.

I personally loved this book. I read some of Bracken’s other novels, (specifically The Darkest Minds trilogy,) and the one recurring theme in her increasingly fantastic novels I’ve noticed is her beautiful writing style. Bracken writes in a way that completely solidifies every argument that writing is art. I mean, really:

“The anger that had flooded her veins was so pure, she thought it must have turned her blood to acid. You could read a hundred books about the attitudes and beliefs of the past, but the impact of witnessing this casual, ignorant cruelty first hand was like having a bucket of ice upended over your head. It forced Etta to see that the centuries padding this time and hers, along with simple privilege, had protected her from the true ugliness of it. People believed this trash, and they were spreading it around like it was nothing. Like they weren’t even talking about humans.”

- Alexandra Bracken, Passenger

In this quote, Bracken is eloquently describing Etta’s mixed emotions of shock and anger at witnessing the cruel discrimination and hate that has been deemed normal in this time period.

For me, one of the best elements of Passenger was the culture-shock the characters experience while traveling to different time periods. I especially appreciated Bracken’s consciousness of social changes through history, as that’s not often something that is usually addressed in books to the same depth as in Passenger. I often find time traveling novels get caught up in the old fashion, architecture, or linguistic changes between eras but neglect the rampant social injustices that were the norm. As the main characters were both groups of heavily disadvantaged people in some of the time periods in this novel—Etta being a woman and Nicholas being African-American—it was definitely a nice change to see the discrimination being discussed, as opposed to being swept under the rug.

Alexandra Bracken has numerous awards from writing her numerous novels—and for good reason! She is a #1 New York Times and a USA Today bestselling author. Her work The Darkest Minds put her on the 2014 TAYSHAS reading list, and Passenger itself was given a starred review from the 2016 School Library Journal. She was also nominated Goodreads Choice Awards Best Debut Goodreads Author in 2010 for her debut novel, Brightly Woven, and Goodreads Choice Awards Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction for The Darkest Minds in 2013.

In the end, I’d recommend this book 4.5/5 stars. As usual, this book can be found at the Halifax Public Libraries, (in ebook form, too!) and the heavily-anticipated sequel for Passenger, named Wayfarer, is set to be released this January. I’m definitely excited to see how the rest of this story unravels—and so glad I stumbled upon this little treasure of a novel!


Teen Blogger


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