I did in fact review ‘Passenger’ back in April for Maximum Pop! which you can read right here. So this isn’t the first time I feel like I’m trying to sum up all the feelings I have for this book. And some of them are a little conflicted and slightly confused.
I was worried going into this book because it had SO MUCH HYPE. And those of us in the UK had to wait THAT MUCH LONGER to get our hands on it, unless you were willing to have it shipped. So it was with much trepidation that I went into reading it. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew one thing:
(Wrong. Rum is not good. It is evil. It makes for very messy night’s out). It was going to be interesting. Why?
There are a lot of mixed reviews and these came from bloggers and readers that I have grown to trust as often being on the same wavelength as me. Words like ‘tedious’ and ‘boring’ and ‘dull’ come up over and over which worried me. Part of the moral of the story here is to try not to read too many reviews before you launch into a book. Especially if they’re of the mixed variety.
What did I really like?
Writing – It took a few pages to get into this one, not because of any fault other than my own brain. I’m so hard-wired into the usual fast, immediate narratives that YA offers that reading something that took more time and gave more detail was like going down a gear. I soon realised that it was the exact same feeling I get when I pick up a Classic. It’s a different mindset. That’s all. Bracken’s writing in ‘Passenger’ is so “giving”, in that it gives the reader so much to see and to think on that maybe it’s a little at odds with the normal GO GO GO style of many YA titles.
Characters – I liked ’em. A lot. I liked how Etta’s character, in particular, was well thought out. She’s thrown into a different time period, but that doesn’t mean she can swagger about like she would in our present day. Nuh uh. She has to conform to gender expectations, or she’d be too much of a risk to both herself and to those around her. It’s something I’ve never really thought of with time-travel stories. So mega kudos to the author for that detail.
Places – This book gets around. And I mean literally. You get to visit some truly amazing places inside these pages and it’s such a joy. I love travel, and so this also gave me some serious wanderlust.
Ending – Wowzer. It feels like you’ve got it pinned down. It’s going to be a predictable rescue job and then ta-da, happy ending. But nope. The ending really did take me by surprise. Very clever.
All the swooning – No further explanation needed.
What would I have done differently, if it were me?
Beginning – I struggled with the beginning, not for the reasons many have stated (the pace, the tedium, the whatever) but because I found Etta really difficult to relate to in those first few pages. She irked me and I was worried I was going to have to try and put up with her for the rest of the book. Thankfully, her character very quickly begins to change and develop and evolve, and that was bot ha relief and a lot of fun to read. But the beginning didn’t sparkle as much as the rest of the book, for me.
Desert travel – This is something me and my dad always joke about in Game of Thrones on TV. So much time is spent wandering across hot, barren lands. Just walking about. Not really getting anywhere and generally just… walking (I’m thinking of a certain mother of dragons). Just get there, already. Or something. And there was a little of this in ‘Passenger’. I’m thinking especially of a part near the end… I just got a little fed up of racing across sand. Sand. Sand. Cut out the sand.
‘Passenger’ took me by surprise. I’d read so many reviews at completely different ends of the rating system. And perhaps this is one of those Marmite books, eh? But for me, it was delicious. Once I was in, I was in. Come hell or high water. It’s got adventure, pirates, swoon-worthy moments, exotic settings, important themes, pirates, action, more pirates. Pirates. I like pirates. And I’m really looking forward to seeing where the heck book two will take me, especially after such a punch-in-the-gut ending to book one.
A very solid 4 out of 5.