3 out of 5 stars
“Star-crossed time travelers solving art clues to pursue an artifact of great power around the globe and across history” sounds far more gripping than Passenger turned out to be.
This is partially my fault. Instead of powering through to keep myself in the story, I let my attention wander. Each day that I didn’t read made it harder to get back into the book, and the. I’d make it only a few pages before putting it down again. That system doesn’t work for me – if I’m going to finish, I need to just do it.
In Passenger, modern day Etta is a violin virtuoso who’s devoted herself to playing over living a regular teenage life. In a great opening sequence, her long-awaited debut at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is devastatingly interrupted by… time travel! And other things. But mostly time travel.
No matter how often time travel is explained to me, it still makes no sense. Every version has different rules, and Passenger’s setup is especially convoluted. And the ever-obvious danger is at large again here: someone is changing history.
Etta meets Nicholas, Colonial-era good guy bound to the ultimate bad family, who is trying to break free of his own Traveler life and take to the sea. But first, he must pretend to help Etta find the world’s most important, powerful artifact. Then un-help her, of course. All while falling in love with her.
Passenger has some very clever and endearing moments as modern Etta and quaint Nicholas attempt to navigate each other’s cultures (and more in between). Their inevitable romance is about as obvious as the boulder in Indiana Jones… and almost as clunky. Still, they’re on a wild adventure that could surely set this story apart.
* SPOILERS!* But it doesn’t. As Etta solves clues custom-made for her, as she and Nicholas dash across time and globe with danger at their heels… it’s fine. Everything’s fine. Nothing is super. The pieces are cool, then their sum is less that stellar. My attention wandered even farther away than Etta and Nicholas’ next mysterious destination. I think it was their romance, which felt as necessary as a spare tire in your trunk, and deployed with as much enthusiasm. I never felt that Nicholas needed the impetus of love to help Etta – he’s just a good guy. He would’ve done the right thing just because it’s right. Making it about love made it tired. Maybe I read to many young adult novels. (GASP.)
This installment leads nicely into the next installment, Wayfarer, which I will read. There’s promise here and I don’t want to miss out if the Passenger series eventually delivers.