This was one of those books where it was impossible to avoid the hype. It seemed everyone had been reading it or taking drool-worthy photos of it.
This book is undeniably a big deal.
This often leads to two reactions when you finally crack open the cover; disappointment that it doesn’t live up to the hype, or intense relief and satisfaction that it does.
Thank gawd it was the latter.
Initially, what’s striking about reading ‘Passenger’ is that it totally feels like you’re reading something classic. Bracken has a very descriptive writing style that might not suit everyone, but it is immersive, confident storytelling.
Why say “confident”? Well, have you ever sat and tried to get your head around time travel? We have. It hurts our brains. There are so many potholes to fall in to and problems to work around. ‘Passenger’ glides through all of these as if sailing on a lake in a gentle breeze.
“Oh, time travel?” it says, “it works like this, see?” And we did! We did see it.
What is also interesting about ‘Passenger’ is its character set. Such strong, vivid peoples coming to life off the pages. The story alternates between Etta and Nicholas, and we tried to decide if we had a favourite to no avail.
Etta is a great main character. And it’s really cool that while time-hopping, she doesn’t just seamlessly “fit in” with that moment in history. She has to swallow her current day self and try to act as a woman should act in that era.
This throws at us a whole history of women’s rights and equality and it is fascinating to see it from this new angle.
Nicholas is compelling in his own way. He’s a POC character. Which, again, throws at us a whole history of racial equality and changing perceptions. And as his character is from the past, unlike Etta who is from our time, their interactions are sometimes motivated by the cultures they grew up in.
Hoo, boy! Sounds heavy, doesn’t it? But that’s the magic of this book. It doesn’t feel heavy. Between time-warping and mystery solving and a little romancing, there is so much to keep readers turned on to the story.
And if you’re wondering if it all peters out to a lackluster ending, fear not. ‘Passenger’ ends with a bang. Of all the things that could have happened we did not see this one coming.
It does, however, mean we’re now hungry for the sequel.
‘Passenger’ is a fun imagining of how time-travel and history could work hand in hand. It’s got a as much heart as it does action. It’s got mystery and moments of intense feels. It is, quite frankly, ace.
And look! We got through this review and only made one boat analogy. Go team!
Have you read ‘Passenger’? Tweet us your thoughts @maximumpopbooks
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