In my recent reading challenge, one of the ten categories was time travel. It must be one of my favourite genres, and I was looking forward to the excuse to read the second book in the Passenger series by Alexandra Bracken. However, of the ten books I read, two surprised me with bonus time travel so I wonder if this is a sign of the next Big Thing. YA paranormal romance and dystopian SF have soared in popularity, many novels making the leap to film, but I suspect not these genres are on their way out. There can only be many werewolf/vampire stories (though I’m still uncertain about dystopian literature’s fate as, despite publishers and agents blacklisting the genre, with the world as it is, the need for instructions manuals on how to tackle the end of the world may be in more demand than ever). So maybe, if we could be so lucky, the next YA genre to fill our bookshelves may be time travel!
So, finally, to my book review. This one is looking at both Bracken’s books, Passenger and Wayfarer, and it was honestly a pleasure to read a series of only two books. It was like reading one huge book with a small breather in the middle, unlike some longer young adult series where each proceeding novel ends on a cliff hanger and perhaps are stretched a little too longer. Instead, everything that needed to be explored was done so neatly and with the right amount of words.
There’s a diverse cast of characters that I loved. Etta Spencer, the main protagonist and a violin virtuoso, is thrust into a strange and chaotic world full of family feuds, murder and alternate timelines. The love interest, Nicholas Carter, is a legal pirate and fellow time traveller whose mother was a slave and his father an Ironwood, the most powerful time travelling family. Of mixed race and struggling for independence, he is an engaging and complicated character. My favourite character, though, would be Sophia. She’s strong, stubborn, ruthless and desperate to find her own, way out from under the thumb of the Ironwood patriarchy. While a secondary character, she becomes fully fleshed out by the second book and carries an additional love story that’s real and complex. Even better, her love interest is Li Min, a sassy girl who has her own dark past.
The time travel is generally well done with tunnels linking different times and travellers needing to document their journeys to avoid being in the same place twice. Certain actions do result in changing timelines, but it’s never really explained and there were quite a few questions left unanswered. This could be covered by Etta not really understand time travel, so the readers don’t need to know either. The ending was a little confusing though and probably could’ve done without the epilogue.