Thursday, December 22, 2016

PASSENGER BY ALEXANDRA BRACKEN - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, Passenger by Alexandra Bracken today!



Now that is what I am talking about! Bracken has proved once more that she can do no wrong!

How do I even give a synopsis of this book?! Oh boy! Ok, so I guess I'll start with saying it follows two main characters, one of which is Henrietta, or Etta for short. She lives with her mom in NYC and is a violin prodigy. One night, at a rehearsal performance, Etta gets thrust into a strange world, landing in the middle of the ocean, on a boat, in 1776. Yup.

Enter Nicholas, a sailor on the boat, and the guy tasked with getting Etta and another girl Sophia safely to land to meet Sophia's grandfather. Etta, after being forced to strike a deal with the old man is sent through time, with the help of Nicholas, trying to find a piece of her family's hidden past, in order to save her mother.

While I won't say much more about the plot, there was a lot of other things happening in this book. Originally, I was going to give this book 4 stars, but after writing this, I'm bumping it up to a full 5 stars.

One of the main elements of this story is time travel. I haven't read a lot of books about time travel, mostly because I usually find the concept confusing and just not worth my trouble. This book, however, brings time travel to a whole new level. Each spot the pair jumps to is really well described and most times, they are of significant importance. One of the stops is London 1940, where they experience an air raid during the Second World War. As a modern day teen, this is something Etta has only learned about in school. There were other places they went to, and each one had a meaning.

What really won me over in this book was that even though it was a book about traveling into the past, today's social issues were still addressed. Nicholas is from the year 1776 and is the son of an African slave. Even though he has bought his freedom, he still faces prejudice for his skin colour in almost every place they visit. Etta, who is white and from 2015, recognizes these problems that he faces. I thought that Bracken's integration of a PoC in this story was really well done. It was brought up as an issue, and always present, but it was never portrayed as something that held Nicholas back from what he wanted to do.

Bracken also tackles issues dealing with gender. Etta is a fierce MC who takes Nicholas on as a partner, not a protector, something that really struck me. She wasn't being flippant about her safety, she just knew she could take care of herself. Etta tells Sophia of a woman running for president in her time period (although that reference didn't pan out as it could have), and that she needs to stand up to her grandfather as an heir to the family empire. While some of these pep talks come back to bite Etta, she shows that she is a strong character who doesn't need a hero to save her.

Even smaller references to issues today, there was a man who today would be considered Muslim and he shares his views with Etta, citing that he is open to things other, more traditional individuals see as "against the rules." There is just a lot of acceptance for people who are quote-unquote different. Bracken does a wonderful job of writing a story of acceptance and tolerance.

I did have a couple problems with the story, Etta's mom was a major one. I found it hard to believe some of the things that she did, especially where her daughter's safety was concerned, but I suppose it had to be that way. I'm still trying to process the ending, luckily I am reading this close to the release of book two so I don't have to sit in suspense too long.

Overall, I highly recommend this story of time travel and tensions of today.