Monday, 2 May 2016

Hype or Like Friday: Passenger Book Review

Hello wonderful people! 

*This is another late post because I was in Vienna over the weekend. I really need to get back on track!*

Hype or Like Friday is a weekly meme created by Jillian, Brit, and Larkin for book bloggers everywhere. During the month we read a hyped book and discuss certain topics. At the end of the month, we post a review with our final verdict: Hype or Like?
April's book was Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. I wasn't too enthused by this book when I first started seeing it on bookstagram, but then the opportunity to read it along with other book bloggers arose and I thought I'd give it a go. The time-travel aspect wouldn't usually appeal to me, but last month I read The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry and really enjoyed how well time travel was integrated into the story, so I decided to step outside my comfort zone once again and give it a go.
Title: Passenger (Passenger #1)

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Pages: 486

Publication Date: 5th January 2016

Publisher: Quercus

Rating: 2.5/5

Tea of Choice: Darjeeling - although Nicholas and Etta never get to India in the 19th Century, I feel like Darjeeling is a good suit. It's quite a bitter taste sometimes, but isn't all to unpleasant - a bit like the book itself. Also, I just feel like a cup of black tea suits a lot of the eras that Etta and Nicholas visit.

Goodreads Synopsis: 
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.


I definitely felt like a passenger whilst reading this book; it started out calm and slow and somewhat - dare I say it - boring, and then suddenly it was a tumultuous adventure filled with excitement that sucked me in.

So from the top! I'm not one for prologues usually, but I found that the one that starts this book is a good introduction to the time travelling and explains Nicholas' character before we meet him properly. Also, I thought the setting of Bhutan was brilliant, because it's a place I've never read about before.

Pacing was my biggest issue. To begin with, a slow pace seemed natural; it gives you a chance to properly understand the characters and introduces you carefully to some complicated aspects of the story. The problem came however, when the pacing remained slow and we seemed to spend forever on the boat where Nicholas and Etta meet. We don't even find out what the mission that's spoken about in the synopsis even is until about halfway through the book which is just not enough time to then cover the actual mission. Compare this slow pacing to how quickly Etta and Nicholas seem to jump between centuries in the second half of the book and it becomes incredibly frustrating. I would have gladly read more about Cambodia than have yet another day on the boat. Throughout the entire first half, I really wasn't sure I was going to finish the book, but then the pacing settled down and became less snail-like/rushed and no longer an issue. 

This was yet another book where the ending saved the entire book for me, and made me want to continue reading on. The part set in Syria was very well done, and contained enough detail and excitement for the pace to be just right. It also left me in a place where I feel like I want to continue the story - I won't be counting the days until it comes out, but I will read it eventually.

In terms of characters, at the beginning I found Nicholas a bit mopey and feeling sorry for himself, but as soon as he'd been with Etta a while, I thought he became more bearable. On the other hand, I'm not a big fan of Etta - I think she was just boring. The violin back-story was a good way of linking Etta to the title, but other than that it just made her whingey and seemed entirely superfluous. I also felt like the romance between the characters was forced - when they talk about how they feel like each other's equal and how they go so well together I was a bit like "umm where is the evidence of this?". Whilst some of the more dramatic/romantic scenes were good as isolated events, the basis of their relationship wasn't evident and it didn't make you want them to be together forever.

Overall, this book has so many flaws that it just didn't live up to the hype, but the final 25% goes some way in making up for the less eventful first half. Also as a sidenote: more settings like this please!

Final judgement: