#1 in the Passenger series
Released: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Received: ARC from publisher
Rating: DNF on page 62
Once upon a time there was a book called Brightly Woven, and this book stole my heart. It had it all: sleepover party main character Sydelle, swoony and sarcastic Wayland North, questing, creative world-building and magic, and did I mention the romance? I read Brightly Woven back in 2010, and I've been pining for more ever since.
So, of course I've done the only logical thing, which is to expect every subsequent book Alexandra Bracken writes to be as amazingly wonderful as Brightly Woven. Or, basically, to be Brightly Woven, just in different settings.
Enter, The Darkest Minds in 2012, which I was fulling hoping would be Syd and North Do a Dystopia. And, yeah, it so wasn't that. Everything took a big step down. Instead of an intricate world with a unique magic system I could latch onto, I got an interesting premise but a sloppily thrown together world with a whole lot of gaping holes. Instead of kick-butt Sydelle, I got whiny please-kill-her-now Ruby. Instead of swoony Wayland North, I got a dull and forgettable love interest. I was devastated, and I never bothered reading the rest of the series.
Which is a huge preamble just to get to Passenger, which, yeah, I was still hoping for Sydelle and North Do Time Travel Pirate Adventuring. And, ugh, I so did not get that.
Instead, I got The Darkest Minds, but worse.
TDM at least jumped into the action and kept it going. Passenger was a total snore-fest (at least, the parts I read). SO much time was spent repeating the same things over and over. I think this was supposed to constitute "character development" but, yeah, no, telling me over and over and over again about surface level character traits and interests is not "character development."
Basically, after 62 pages I now know that main character what's-her-name really wants to be a violin prodigy, is really nervous about her big debut performance, likes her violin teacher, and has a flighty, artsy but not particularly warm mom. Oh, and she's also really annoying, wishy washy, and has no life or backbone and isn't happy with her life choices. Yawn.
BUT, I do know I really, really don't like her.
And the guy? Ugh, he's no Wayland North. He's not even that other boring guy from TDM. He's...erm, he sails on ships? I think I'm supposed to think he's adventuresome and smart and all that. Maybe?
So, yeah, characters 0. How about that plot?!
No, plot 0, too.
I thought TDM was thrown together. Ha. I did not know the meaning of thrown together, but Passenger has shown me the way. Absolutely awful pacing. I mean, terrible. Nothing happened in those 62 pages, (though I do think I caught some heavy handed foreshadowing and "cabal-esque" hint dropping) which made the book feel wandering and unsure of itself.
All the musician stuff was close, but not quite right. The ship stuff was erm, well, some of the things were sort of right-ish but at best were a bunch of jargony stuff that could be sort of right but doesn't really actually say anything to straight up not right.
I could give a pass on that. I mean, this is a light, fluffy, YA action book. It's not supposed to be heavy historical fiction. But, but, she could have just googled! I mean, crack open a Patrick O'Brian book to any random page and get some ship info. It's not that hard to get it right! Or, just don't put it in there at all and say "the ship had bigger and more guns than we did oh noes!" instead of trying to describe it in more detail. Either would work. I'd totally be ok with the vague approach. But this poor attempt at detail and getting it wrong is not ok.
But, this is the same problem as with everything else. It's all so hacked together and surface-level, relying on a mish-mash of "close enough" details and bash my head in repetition instead of depth. It just screams low effort.
This felt like a hot mess. Is it a lack of editing? Rushed writing? I don't know what's happened, but over the course of three books, Alexandra Bracken has gone from an auto-buy author to a library-first, and now I'm sad to say but she's not even on my "consider reading" list anymore.