So, this is what happens when my cat is left unattended. Meanwhile, my spoiler-free review for Passenger by Alexandra Bracken:
3/5 stars. I am very, very disappointed. I thought for sure that I would love this book because so many book reviewers that I trust gave it 4+ stars. I just didn’t get it.
It started out promising enough, with a strong, feminist-type character who I felt I could relate to. Then the whole time traveling business was introduced, and I was lost. People kept saying that Bracken wove the time travel into an understandable concept, but honestly, I thought it was confusing. She dumped piles of information in less than a few pages, but would then leave several chapters with no new facts. A few chapters later, we would get a new dump. I felt like it could have been much more enjoyable if I had understood it better. Time travel is definitely a delicate subject, one that is very difficult to write about. It requires the finesse that I think Bracken was lacking. Plus, being a shameless Whovian, I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the paradoxes that would be induced by her time travel. The Doctor is cringing in the TARDIS somewhere.
Next on my did-not-like list is the pace of the plot, and the plot itself. The whole middle of the book was just boring. Epically so. It was just way too long, and way too pointless. It felt like an endless loop of “let’s go here” and “I figured it out”! It was basically a very long description of a time travel scavenger hunt. I had to force myself to get through it, otherwise I never would have finished. There was some action, yes, but I feel like Bracken just tried too hard and put a lot of words down that didn’t need to be there. For all of the description and detail she wrote, I didn’t gain much atmosphere from the setting.
The one thing I did like were the two main protagonists, Etta and Nicholas. Individually, they were very strong, clever, and likable people. Both of them had fears, motivation, passion. What I did not like was their relationship. *sigh*. Another case of insta-love. I’m usually all for the romantic moments and passionate kissing, but theirs seemed a little too forced. They didn’t have enough time to really explore or even get to know each other. It was almost: “wow, she’s pretty and smart. She shatters me with a single word.” (I swear that second sentence is almost a direct quote). Mild spoiler: about ¾ they have sex. It doesn’t explicitly say so, but I’m pretty sure I understood the context right. Let me reiterate: they had sex. At this point, they had known each other for what, a few weeks? A month, maybe? It makes me upset because if it was better paced, their romance could have been beautiful. Little things here and there were really cute, and some lines even broke my heart a little. My favorite was Nicholas’ term of endearment for Etta. In signature Bracken style (i.e., Liam’s “darlin’”) he called her ‘pirate’. IT WAS THE CUTEST THING EVER.
All in all, I think my disappointment may be a result of me comparing this to other books/shows. First, Doctor Who. Then, the Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier. Maybe those have set my time travel preferences at a certain setting, but Bracken’s time travel was too generic and paradoxical for me.