Author: Alexandra Bracken
Rating: 4.5 stars
Possible Censorship Issues: Mild language, thematic material, time travel magic
Passenger follows two main characters: Etta Spencer and Nicholas Carter. Etta is a violin prodigy who discovers that she has the ability to travel through time and finds herself smack dab in the middle of an age-old feud that spans between her relations family and several other prominent time-traveling families. Not only have these time travelers kidnapped her and taken her miles from her home, they have also taken her several decades back in time. The second main character is Nicholas, a sailor who is content with the life he’s chosen for himself—and away from his family. Suddenly, when Etta winds up on his ship, Nicholas finds his fate intertwined with Etta’s.
The Ironwoods (the time traveling family in charge of all time travelers) believe that Etta is only person who can find an object of great value to their family, and they blackmail her into trying to locate it for them. Nicholas has been tasked with making sure Etta finds and returns with the object, so he must follow her as she journeys through time using clues left to her by a traveler who wants the object destroyed (and out of the Ironwoods’ hands).
Not only do Etta and Nicholas have to figure out where the object is, but also when. In a giant scavenger hunt through time, the two follows clues that lead toward this object. However, Etta and Nicholas aren’t the only two looking for it. Will they reach the object first? What will Etta decide to do if she does get there first?
The concept of this book is incredibly fascinating to me, and I was really excited to pick it up. It takes a little bit to get going, but once the plot takes off, Passenger is really hard to put down. Nicholas is half African American and from the early American colonies, a time when most African Americans were slaves, and Etta is from present time. Bracken handles the difference in racial prejudice throughout time really well, as Nicholas is always aware of his skin color, but Etta hardly thinks about it. It reminds me very much of Scout Finch’s “colorblindness” in Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchmen. (Which also just goes to show that it’s easier not to notice race for those who aren’t discriminated against.)
I can also tell that this novel was heavily researched, and each time period is rich in details. Passenger ends on a cliffhanger with the life of one of the main characters on the line—the sequel can’t get here fast enough!