Passenger (Passenger #1)
by Alexandra Bracken.
Etta thinks that she’s a normal girl. Well, maybe not normal. She is a world-class violinist approaching her debut, after all. But one night something goes horribly wrong. Etta wakes up not only somewhere else, but somewhen. Her mother and her haven’t been close in recent years, but you’d think she’d have mentioned that Etta comes from a line of time travelers. But now, separated from everyone and everything she knows, she has to figure out this new ability and why she’s been wrenched from her life and how to get back to it. Except someone has other plans for her.
This had the potential to be really good. The idea is intriguing: a family of time travelers wields control across several centuries, and there’s a quest to stop them from gaining control of all of time. Unfortunately, in execution, it just didn’t deliver. It tried to be YA and romance and adventure and historical fiction all rolled into one, and didn’t do any of them well. The main character, Etta, is very inconsistent. She’s introduced as a shy/introverted person who doesn’t do small talk, cares only about music, and yet gets panic attacks before performances. But poof, add a little time travel and suddenly she’s breezily charming and doesn’t flinch at snakes/tigers/extreme conditions? That doesn’t add up, for me. Neither did the romance plot line. It felt more like the author forced there to be an insta-romance because she wanted there to be a romance, rather than these two characters being inevitable for each other.
There didn’t seem to be any logic to the different time periods Etta visits. Which, ok, I guess there doesn’t have to be, but it felt more random than I would’ve preferred. It was like the story was trying to reveal some significance to those times, but it wasn’t clear what it was. Also, the mechanics of how these travelers time travel, and the different factions involved, could have used further explanation. I’m hoping the author has some of that saved for later books and isn’t just skipping it completely. Though she could’ve gotten rid of some of the really slow parts in this book and fit some of that in.
It wasn’t all bad. Nicholas was an interesting and consistent character; I liked the added dimension he brought to the time travel puzzle, it’s not something you see addressed in time travel stories too much. Sophie and Hasam, though much more minor characters, were probably the most vivid for me. And again, the core idea is interesting.
The pace and action did pick up towards the end of the book, enough that I’ll consider picking up book 2 to see what happens.