“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.”
The Passenger duology follows the format of a lot of adventure novels: Etta discovers she is part of a world she has never heard of, which her mother spent her life trying to keep her away from. But after she is kidnapped and sent through a portal to another time, she discovers that she may be more important to this other world than she knows.
In the meantime, she meets Nicholas, a boy born far from her time who earned his freedom from slavery and now spends his days on the sea under the supervision of his captain, who knows of time travel but is not a traveler himself. Nicholas takes interest in Etta as a job, but he quickly starts to care for her much more than that.
Etta and Nicholas’s relationship is one of the most compelling of any novel I’ve ever read. The connection between them can be felt at full force through Bracken’s words, and the development of their relationship feels natural and unrushed, despite the short time period in which they get to know each other.
Passenger and Wayfarer are definitely high up on my list of recommended books, as well as anything written by Alexandra Bracken. The Darkest Minds series is perfectly crafted, and the relationship between Liam and Ruby leaves you on the edge of your seat just as much as Nick and Etta. Bracken’s talent for writing is obvious: her words are elegant and they always seem to fit, which is one thing that makes the Passenger duology stand out.
Personally, I didn’t feel that this duology passed up The Darkest Minds in terms of plot, and I was a little disappointed. They are great books in their own regard, but sometimes the story felt as if it was dragging a little bit, which I never felt when reading TDM.
Bracken’s other stories aside, Passenger and Wayfarer have very intricate storylines, with several different timelines and settings woven in, and the difficult plot was pulled off very nicely. There were the usual plot holes of course, which are almost unavoidable when time travel is on the table, but I didn’t feel as though that took away from the story in any way.
Bracken’s characters almost seem to come off of the page: they are very human and multidimensional, which can be a difficult thing to pull off for many writers. I think character development was a strong point in these books that made them stand out among other YA stories.
I’m not going to lie, these books definitely made me cry, which is just another reason I know they were good. I really felt connected to the characters throughout the story, and I enjoyed it even when I wished the pace would pick up a bit.
The elegance of the word choice mixed with the lessons the story has to offer were a great match. I especially love the quote: “But we are, all of us, also wayfarers on a greater journey, this one without end, each of us searching for the answers to the unspoken questions of our hearts. Take comfort, as I have, in knowing that, while we must travel it alone, this journey rewards goodness, and will prove that the things that are denied to us in life will never create a cage for our souls.”
Overall, Passenger and Wayfarer were well-crafted novels, and they definitely have a space in my heart among my favorites.