Published by HarperCollins Australia on January 5th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
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passage, n.i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.ii. A journey by water; a voyage.iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.
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
When the whole blogosphere tells me that I will love a book, I tend to approach it with wariness. That’s what happened with Passenger – with the the hype leading me to be extremely wary about the book.
The start of Passenger is exciting and fast paced, but it slows down to a staggering pace as Etta starts time travelling. We learn about the Ironwood family history and their time travelling ability, and their influence and power over the rest of the time travellers. They want Etta to retrieve a rare artifact, while sending Nicholas with her for security. They’re given a 1 month deadline to retrieve the artifact.
This is where it started to get interesting, as Etta and Nicholas will time travel to a number of exotic locations: Paris during WWII, London’s revolutionary period, Angkor in Cambodia – they’ll cross cities, deserts, caves and ocean. From their clothing, food, language and mannerisms, to religion, women’s rights and the political and social ideology of the time, it was fascinating learning about a variety of different eras.
And Etta, don’t forget – the truly remarkable thing about your life is that you’re not bound to live it straight forward like the rest of us.
I also liked the way that time travel was handled, conveniently solving problems with time travel. You can only travel to the same day that it is, so you can’t go back and change the past. You also can’t overlap places where you’ve been in the past, to prevent the timeline from getting messed up. Temporal passages will be linked to a particular time and place, and you can only travel to certain periods if you can find those passages. Just because you’re a time traveller, doesn’t mean you’re invincible, which is why Passenger made a lot of sense.
Passenger is a slow book however; there were parts of it that were extremely tedious and drawn out. The book feels too long, pampered with unnecessary detail over inane things that don’t seem to make an impact to the actual story. We’re given long passages about the songs that Etta chooses to play, the detail of Nicholas’s lips, and the back story of every single pirate on the ship. Instead of focusing on their mission (that has a time limit), much of the story will be circled around their romance and why it’s forbidden. There’ll be pages and pages of internal monologue debating on whether each of them should act on their feelings or not. Luckily, you’re rewarded with some pretty epic kissing scenes, which I didn’t care for too much but I know Aila and Jenna enjoyed.
He would not surrender to the disaster of loving her. In time, the pain would pass.
While I liked the idea of Etta and Nicholas as a couple, being from different timelines and having a cross cultural relationship (Nicholas is black), I didn’t really connect to them as a couple. Their character development felt kind of bland, with Etta as a violin prodigy who is determined to save her ‘grandmother’, and Nicholas as a wannabe pirate who wants to protect her. Although we get both of their point of views, I didn’t really feel any emotion or connection between them. Even when there were emotional things happening in the story – it was delivered in a disconnected and clinical manner.
The ending also felt really rushed, with twists delivered without much explanation. They were quite hard to believe, especially given how slow the rest of the book was.
Whether you enjoy Passenger or not, will depend on how much you enjoy detailed family history and the historical accounts of each place. Although I couldn’t connect with the characters or the romance, I liked the way the time travel was handled and the research put into each time period and place.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thanks HarperCollins Australia for sending me this book for review!
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