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-Victoria Aveyard, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Red Queen
"Grabs you by the heart from its opening notes and doesn't let go until its knockout, blockbuster finale."
-Sarah J. Maas, New York Times best-selling author of the Throne of Glass series
"This time-traveling adventure is rich in detail, the slowburning relationship between Etta and Nicholas will leave many readers breathless, and the startling cliffhanger will reel them back for the next installment."
" Passenger] doesn't let up its high-octane pace until the final page. . . A] strong new series."
-School Library Journal
"Bracken keeps pages turning."
" A] rousing series opener. . . The clever historical allusions, well-crafted subplots, and cliffhanger ending should leave readers awaiting the next volume."
-Publishers Weekly In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles, but years from home. And she's inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she's never heard of. Until now.
Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods-a powerful family in the Colonies-and the servitude he's known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can't escape and the family that won't let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, his passenger, can find. In order to protect her, Nick must ensure she brings it back to them-whether she wants to or not.
Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods' grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home forever.
- ISBN-13: 9781484715772
- ISBN-10: 1484715772
- Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
- Publish Date: January 2016
- Page Count: 496
- Reading Level: Ages 14-17
A mother's time-traveling legacy
We’ve all had that moment when we realize our parents had a life before us, but it’s safe to say that in Alexandra Bracken’s exciting new YA novel, Passenger, 17-year-old violin prodigy Etta Spencer’s epiphany about her mom is more astonishing than most.
As the story begins, Etta finds her mother, Rose, hard to connect with at best. But after a sudden, supremely shocking series of events, Etta realizes there’s a lot more going on behind her mother’s stoic demeanor than she could’ve imagined. Rose is a time traveler, which Etta learns after discovering she’s a time traveler, too.
Following said shocking events, Etta wakes up on a wooden ship, surrounded by oddly dressed men with old-fashioned accents. One of them is a handsome, highly capable young seaman and freed slave named Nicholas Carter.
Upon deducing that no, this isn’t weird performance art, and she’s definitely not in present-day New York City anymore, Etta struggles to accept her new reality—which is occurring in the 1700s on the Atlantic Ocean. She discovers that Rose has been on the run from a power-hungry, wealthy old man named Cyrus Ironwood who wants her to return something he believes she’s stolen. Etta embarks on a bizarre, mystifying, dangerous new chapter of her life, searching with Nicholas for the stolen object as they travel through centuries and continents. Her understanding of her place in the world broadens and evolves as she discovers more about her mother’s past and its repercussions for her own future.
“I’ve loved history my whole life,” Bracken says during a call from her Virginia home, but for a long time she had “an idealistic view of time travel. As I’m getting older, I’m realizing that [women would be] subjected to the standards of an era, and time travel wouldn’t be a joyful thing for people unless they go into the future.”
Etta, her mother and other female time travelers are just as savvy as men when finding portals, dodging pursuers and the like, but Etta still contends with outdated views of women as she travels into centuries past. And the powerful, time-traveling Ironwood family still adheres to antiquated and classist views of station and bloodlines, despite their extraordinary ability to visit more modern, egalitarian times.
Equally compelling is Nicholas’ situation. He’s also under the megalomaniacal thumb of the wealthy Cyrus, yet is highly respected by his colleagues and moves freely through time and geography. He is determined to break free of Cyrus once he and Etta fulfill their dangerous quest—if that’s even possible.
“Slaves were victims of history, but I didn’t want Nicholas to have the opinion he was a victim,” says Bracken. “I wanted him to be very self-sufficient, and ultimately the person who’s saving himself, with none of the white-savior complex.”
This is just a fraction of the goings-on in Passenger, which is densely and deftly packed with all sorts of thrilling events and memorable characters. As each chapter closes, readers will certainly wonder where—and when—Etta and Nicholas will end up next.
And how did Bracken end up here, at age 28 with six books (and counting) to her name? After publishing her debut, Brightly Woven, in 2010, Bracken published four more books over the next five years, including her bestselling Darkest Minds trilogy, all while working in children’s publishing in New York City. When she was tapped to write a middle-grade Star Wars movie tie-in, Star Wars: A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy, she admits to being a bit nervous—Star Wars fans are known for their passion and protectiveness—but ultimately felt very welcomed by the community. “A dad came up to me after a panel [at a pop-culture convention] and said his daughter will be so excited to see a girl’s name on the cover,” Bracken says.
Bracken was also a bit apprehensive about a certain aspect of Passenger: Etta’s budding romance with Nicholas. “I was so nervous to make the jump to this book because it’s so different from the Darkest Minds series,” she says. “The romance is definitely really different. But if I did the same kind of story and characters over and over again, I’d be bored, and readers would be bored.”
There’s no chance of that with Passenger. Bracken’s rules for time travel are fun to encounter and untangle, and the far-flung centuries and locations—Bhutan, the U.K. and Syria, to name a few—are rich with vibrant detail. Etta’s determination to carry out her mission, have a relationship with Nicholas (she’s not averse to kissing him first, should her mood dictate) and use her powerful gift for good makes her a symbol of potential positive change, while also pitting her against those who want to keep things the same. And that’s all we’ll say about that, lest we spoil the complex, multilayered, time traveling, globetrotting fun.
In terms of her own future, Bracken has big things—and a lot of writing—ahead. The second book in the Passenger duology, Wayfarer, is due out in 2017. And the day before she spoke with BookPage, her four-book deal with Disney Publishing was announced, including a new series for middle graders, a standalone YA novel and one more hush-hush book.
“It feels like a dream,” Bracken says. “But if I ever stop writing and don’t sell another book, I’m really proud of the little stack I’ve put out into the world.”
That stack’s going to keep growing for now, and Bracken’s glad to know what lies ahead. “It’s really exciting to be gainfully employed for the next four years!” she says. And really exciting for her readers, knowing there are many more wildly inventive, eminently entertaining books to come.