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Book Review: PASSENGER by Alexandra Bracken

Passengerby Alexander Bracken is the tale of present-day Etta Spencer, a violinist on the cusp of her debut. At her performance, Etta hears an unusual humming that a girl, Sophia, encourages her to follow claiming she can hear it, too. Etta glimpses her dear friend and instructor, Alice, murdered on the floor seconds before Sophia pushes her to the source of the sound. Etta awakens disoriented and in old-fashioned clothes on a pirate ship in the 18th century.

She soon discovers that she has inherited a time traveling gene, and the families who possess this talent have dwindled away over the centuries. Etta learns of her lineage which her mother kept secret, and how to use her gift with the help of the 18th century biracial boy, Nicolas, who constantly has his guard up for fear of stereotypes that no longer exist in Etta’s time.


Firstly, I would like to note how out of my element I was reading this book. I typically am drawn to elaborate fantasies and excessive carnage. But this book was suggested, so I caved.

With that being said, I surprisingly enjoyed this book. While there was plenty of action and surreal elements, it was heavily grounded by the landmarks in history the time travelers followed. In fact, if all of my history classes had revolved around time travel and knife fights, I might have paid more attention and passed with flying colors.

I thoroughly enjoyed Nicolas. While Etta was a strong lead and had fantastic spunk, it was Nicolas’s reactions to her that kept me turning the pages. Born in the time of slavery and having only traveled to times where racism was prominent, Nicolas struggled to understand how Etta could treat him as an equal. Throughout the book, his exterior begins to melt and you experience his buried desire to be accepted by others.

Bracken’s writing style is eloquently precise, and her characters find their way into your heart. I can’t wait for the second book!

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