The hype monster strikes again…

Passenger is the much anticipated release of Alexandra Bracken’s new trilogy. It’s a time travel fantasy novel that takes place in many countries during many different centuries. Being new to the blogging world, I thought I’d try to read a newly released book with everyone else to stay current. There seem to be people who LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. And others who are completely bored by it. I think I fell somewhere in the middle. On Goodreads I gave this book a meh-worthy 2.5 stars.

The story of passenger is focused around two teenagers, Henrietta (Etta) and Nicholas. Etta was born in modern times, while Nicholas was born during the American revolution. Bracken lets us know two things off the bat about Nicholas. 1.) He’s black,the child of a slave and her white owner. 2.) He’s a pirate, a member of a low socioeconomic class. Etta is classical musician, but other than her ability to time travel (HELLO. The point of the book.) we don’t know a lot else. There are a number of things about this book that are problematic as far as literature goes…some of the writing, some of the story narrative, and the minimal and confusing world building to name a few. However, you know me (or at least you should be beginning to have an inkling), I want to talk about some of the smaller motifs within the book.

As this is a time travel novel, I thought that Bracken did a good job of applying cultural relevance to the cities and time periods our main characters found themselves. Although good portion of the book was spent in Nicholas’s native time, she did not spend as much time describing some of the social customs and tensions that were relevant during the American revolution. She did, however, provide some insight into Nicholas’s internal struggle of being attached to a powerful family, while maintaining the status of a second class citizen. Both Nicholas’s race and bastardization were presented as central to his character and Bracken showed how they affected his self-confidence off the boat in colonial society. I appreciated that Bracken tried to tie in race and socioeconomic status into her fantasy story. Young adults need to read stories about people who are different from the norm, and Bracken sets a good foundation for this to be expanded on in subsequent books.

As Etta and Nicholas moved through the time periods as the book progressed, I found that the cultural context of the various cities and time periods improved greatly. Bracken reached her stride when the two reach Damascus. The characterization of the city, its culture, and its people was good and thorough. I found myself really into the setting and story line. It is because of this ending that I think I will continue on with the series, even though I didn’t love it. I’d recommend this book for anyone who is interested in time travel and fantastical elements of stories. There’s also a “pirate” angle that could be interesting to some people. Overall, I was happy about this series beginning to tackle some real world problems related to identity.

Until Next Time World…


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