Series: Passenger, #1
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion, January 2016
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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.
Imagine your life is music – you thrive on the notes, rising and falling into a beautiful melody. When you’re playing, nothing else bothers you; it’s an escape. That’s how Etta Spencer, seventeen-year-old New York violin prodigy, deals. When she plays the violin, the tense relationship with her mother falls away, as does her stage fright, her worries about her social life, and, well, general teenage stuff. Her story, however, is anything but the typical teenager stuff.
Etta finds herself caught between her mother, who has been hiding more secrets than Etta knew, and the Ironwoods, a powerful family that rules all travelers. The Ironwoods are on the hunt for a family heirloom, and Etta finds herself tasked with returning it to them.
I was blown away by Etta’s character development throughout Passenger – she grew from a slightly-spoiled girl to a strong young woman who is learning to face down her fears. Her decision to fight for her mother and herself forced her to make the hard decisions and survive.
Nicholas provides a good balance to Etta – he’s skilled at traveling through time, savvy enough to keep himself out of trouble, and determined enough to overcome society’s restrictions to make a name for himself.
Their relationship may be, aside from the fantastic world-building and creativity, my favorite element of Passenger. Bracken tackles race and social issues with a gusto that I appreciated. The contrast of Etta and Nicholas’ individual worlds brought the biggest hurdles in their relationship so far, and I loved how Bracken met it head on.
The world building is simply extraordinary. Bracken’s creation of passages, travelers, and the methods behind them made a new world behind the familiar pages of history. I loved the mythology and the history of the Ironwoods – it fit so neatly into Etta’s new time-traveling world.
Passenger is, by far, one of the best books I’ve read this year (and yes, I know it’s only February, but this one made an impact). Bracken’s world left me intrigued and excited for what she’s bringing next.
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