You know when a book is so massively hyped up that you almost don’t want to read it in case you hate it? This was one of those books. And unfortunately, for me, it didn’t live up to the hype.
I loved the idea. I’m a massive time travel fan, so any book or film that promises me some time travelling shenanigans will get my money. The idea that time travel could be a genetic ability was really cool and had masses of potential and I think for people that enjoy Alexandra Bracken’s style of writing this book could be winner-winner-chicken-dinner. Sadly, I was not one of those people.
Just as some background, I read The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken a while back and it really wasn’t for me. It just didn’t click. At the time, I chalked it up to experience and moved on, but Passenger has left me feeling the same way so now I’m starting to think that maybe Alexandra Bracken’s style of writing just isn’t my cup of tea.
At 500 pages, I found this book to be really over-long, considering the plot is pretty skimpy. I know it’s bad form to compare books by different writers, but when I think about how much plot, description and characterisation Sarah J Maas crammed into ACOMAF it really made me wonder why this author’s editor didn’t send the original manuscript back to her with lots of red-pen ‘CUT THIS BIT OUT’ comments over it. The same story could have been told easily in 200 pages by an author with a more succinct writing style.
There were some really long-winded passages where Etta and Nicholas did a whole bunch of navel-gazing. There was miles too much bland description about things that didn’t really need describing. These things pulled me out of the action and left me a little bored at times. The action doesn’t get going for quite a way into the book and when it does, it’s quite slow-moving.
Having said this, I think that this is just this author’s style of writing. I noticed the same things about The Darkest Minds and that book didn’t thrill me as much as I’d hoped either. And interestingly that was a book that had an underlying idea I wanted to love, too.
Etta was an okay character, but I thought she really loved her violin-playing skills a bit too much. On the plus side, she was brave and resourceful, but anyone who goes into their own little world and mimes playing an instrument in front of other people needs a quick poke in the eye.
Nicholas was okay, but too noble and I’m-not-worthy for me to get behind as a love interest. He comes from a time where interracial relationships were illegal, so I understood his reticence, but I’d have preferred him to have had a bit more backbone. I think that for some people he would be an awesome love interest, but personally I prefer my male MCs to be a bit more rogueish.
And: Cliche Alert! Etta’s mum is a cold, frosty woman, and she’s (you’ll never guess!) ... British.
I'm going to skip right past the bit where the author describes various characters as having 'British' accents (there's no such thing - Britain has literally hundreds of different accents) and go right to the part where I find it so tedious when the cold, frosty woman turns out to be British. Seriously, it’s like some authors think no other nation in the world has emotionally unavailable women. Hate to break it to you, but this isn’t what we're like. I’m not sitting here in my ice castle, platinum-blonde hair twisted up into an elegant chignon, breathing liquid-nitrogen fumes all over my laptop. I haven’t sent my barely-weaned children off to boarding school. I’m actually *whispers* quite affectionate towards my friends and family.
In fact, if there’s one thing I tire of more than the British Ice Queen cliché, it’s the plump, tea-swilling, Mrs Overall, ‘Alright Ducks?’ cliché.
And guess what? There’s one of those in this book too.
Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll read any more books by this author. Irritating stereotypes aside, she’s not a bad writer per se, just not completely on my wavelength. If you love long, meandering passages of description then she’d be right up your alley, but I’m just not sure she’s for me.