Passenger/Wayfarer duology (Alexandra Bracken)

Confession – it took until I was writing the title of this post to realise that Passenger was written by the same person who wrote The Darkest Minds. This post is about both Passenger and it’s duology sequel Wayfarer.

I’ll be the first to admit – I picked the books up because of their cover, and because the book was about time travel. Granted, I picked them up from the library with a healthy dose of skeptisism about the potential romantic notions that might (and were) attached to the plot. Aren’t the covers pretty cool?

So, basically, in the world there are four families that have the ability to live parallel to the timelines – some are able to move through specific passageways between years. The family members that can’t move through passages but are sensitive to time, are Guardians (of the passage and the secret). 17-year old Etta Spencer wants to be a concert violinist, and on the day of her first solo, she has a fight with her mum. Then she gets pushed through a passageway onto a ship in the 1700s and finds out that she is a time traveller, some wacko family patriarch called Ironwood needs her to steal something or she will die. All in the company of a charming sea captain, and an angry young woman. She and Nicholas (the sea captain) start off to find the missing astrolabe that Rose, Etta’s mother, hid before Etta was even born. Etta and Nicholas find themselves tripping through time to avoid the Ironwoods, and the Thorns (arch nemesis of Ironwoods). The entire book is falling out of one passage, running around trying to avoid dying, to fall into another passage.

It got a bit dull around two thirds of the way into Passenger. There were lots of short passage hops, and it felt a little like the author was trying to see how many places and times she could fit in. It took me a while to finish that last third, in amongst dinner with family and making cakes for the Macmillan coffee morning. The ending was …fair to middling, and I only really chose to pick up Wayfarer because I had it to hand, and I like to finish a series where possible.

Wayfarer, in my opinion, was definately better than the first part. I felt like you got to know the characters more, especially what motivated them, and what they are willing (and not) to do. There is also a focus on characters that are not Etta and Nicholas. Sophia, in particular, becomes significantly more … I don’t want to say likeable because she isn’t, but that’s the closest I can come. And you meet the Thorns. It feels less like a checklist of cities and time periods (although there is an element of that) and more like actually finding things out and getting invested in characters. It’s also really hard to trust anyone’s motives in book 2, after the events of book 1. It was a good wrap up to the series and I enjoyed the second book more than the first.

Given how it’s time travel and historical fiction, I thought I would be more enamoured with the plot than I actually was. I liked the books well enough, they were imaginative, the time travel had some fairly logical rules, and the characters were pretty good. Also, for me, there was the potential for a nasty little love triangle and it wasn’t taken! Bonus points for no love triangle with Etta and Nicholas. And bonus points for Sophia and Lin Meh because I liked them both.

I’m glad I read them, as I have been picking them up consistently and putting them back for months now, but I am not planning on rereading them. I think they were good, and a few years ago I’d have adored them.

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