Passenger: A Book Review

Society is always the same, regardless of the era. There are rules and standards, with seemingly no purpose. It’s a hateful, elaborate charade, equal parts flirtation and perceived naïveté. To men we have the minds of children.

Book: Passenger (Passenger #1)

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Passenger (Passenger, #1)Blurb:

passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

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, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he 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

My thoughts:

I love Alexandra Bracken’s books (The Darkest Minds, Brightly Woven) and so this automatically went on my TBR list. I had some trouble acquiring it, but I persevered because you know- Alexandra Bracken!

This book combines 2 of my favorite themes: Time travel and strong female characters. Etta is not traditionally strong- she’s a pale, thin muscled musician- but she has an inner strength that’s probably more fun to write about. She’s determined to protect the people that she cares for, she’s willing to constantly learn and she sticks to her guns.

What a privilege it was to never feel like you had to take stock of your surroundings, or gauge everyone’s reactions to the color of your skin.

After a while, it got somewhat annoying to listen to her judge people from the past with her modern set of ethics and principles, but you have to admire a girl who stands up for women’s rights and equality at all times (I mean that very literally).

How do you fight against a mountain? How do you move it when you don’t even have a shovel?
Maybe you don’t have to move it. Maybe you have to climb it.

Let’s talk about time travel. One of the worst things that can happen to a time-travel book is having it over-explained and super-analyzed until the average reader has no idea what is going on. It’s even worse when the world-building acts as a noose around the plots neck, strangling it slowly by way of flaws and plotholes which are immediately obvious to anyone with a basic understanding of physics.  This book does not fall prey to these major tropes. Ms. Bracken keeps it simple (and mysterious). I hope she keeps it that way for the rest of the series.

Never. Never again would he allow any other man to define him, set his course.

Moving on to Nicholas Carter. I’m sorry to use this phrase- but he is adorable! (see, I used an exclamation point). First and foremost, he is a sailor who aspires to captaincy. However, he’s born at a cruel time when slavery is still an acceptable practice and African-Americans are considered sub-human. These are very real obstacles that keep him from recognizing his talents. It also leads to a very flawed self-image and idea of sel-worth. Nicholas Carter is the guy you would feel for because he is sometimes heartbreakingly uncertain. However, he doesn’t let you feel pity for long because (be warned- I will use the exclamation point again), he is awesome!

Things that I want to complain about: This book has a very anti-adult feel to it. The adults all seem to be hiding secrets and ulterior motives. <spoiler alert> Yes, all of them. <spoiler over>. It;s a theme that was in the Darkest Minds, but there it made sense. Here, it really doesn’t.

You cannot fathom the distance I would travel for you.

I’d wholeheartedly recommend this book if you want something light about time travel or if you want a book with powerful characters. Alexandra Bracken is an amazing writer, and this book was not a disappointment.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Books you might want to read: Parallel, Darkest Minds

In the Afterlight: A Book Review

“What I’m trying to get at is, as bad as everything seems, I think, at its heart, life is good. It doesn’t throw anything at us that it knows we can’t handle—and, even if it takes its time, it turns everything right side up again.”

Book: In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3)

Author: Alexandra Bracken

In The Afterlight (The Darkest Minds, #3)

The Darkest Minds Never Fade In the Afterlight…

Blurb:

Ruby can’t look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government’s attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America’s children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the “rehabilitation camps” housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

My Thoughts:

This was the last book in the Darkest Minds trilogy. If you haven’t read the Darkest Minds and Never Fade, there’s really no point in you reading In the Afterlight. Go read them instead. But for those of you who are loyal fans and have followed this series closely, trust me- this book is no disappointment. I’m certain you’re all already planning to read it so I’m posting this review mostly to drive you mad with almost-spoilers (I won’t actually be giving anything away though) until you get ready to pick up this book of pure awesomeness.

Ruby is more in touch with her powers than ever and is a lot stronger and assertive for it. Unfortunately, her new-found confidence and sharing secrets with Cole has brought some distance between her friends, Chubs and Vida, and her boyfriend Liam who don’t know what to make of her any more. But while her relationship with her friends has deteriorated, shared secrets and command has brought her closer than ever to Cole. Both of them have common objectives- Making life easier for the kids, finding a cure and protecting Liam. I saw a lot of potential in Cole in Never Fade and he has lived up (maybe even exceeded) those expectations. One of the things which I loved most about this book was the reappearance of Zu. It’s been a while since we (and the kids in this book) have seen her, but she’s never been far from our hearts. She’s back in this book as adorable and brave as ever, adding her name to Vida’s, Cate’s and Ruby’s in a long list of strong, capable females in this series.

This book deals with more jaded, more cynical characters than the first book. Even Liam who was such an optimistic sweetheart in the first book (thus making up one half of one of my Top 5 YA Ships) has taken a heavy dose of reality and betrayal from those who love him most (I love Ruby, but what she pulled at the end of the Darkest Minds was inexcusable. Just inexcusable.) But though that optimism has dampened, it’s not completely disappeared and the characteristics which made me love him in the first place are strengthened by ones that make me respect him. I had heard rumours that there would be a love triangle between Ruby, Liam and Liam’s brother Cole. I am very happy to say that the rumours are very, very wrong. Cole was an amazing character (maybe one of my favourite characters this year)  with a lot of pressure on him and I’m very glad that Ruby was able to provide a strong and steady friendship- and only friendship- for him. I wrote a post about YA tropes. One of the things I mentioned was that in YA, guys and girls are rarely ever just friends. The Darkest Minds Trilogy (with the beautiful friendships between Ruby and Chubs and Ruby and Cole) make it onto the selective list of books which avoid this trope. That being said, I think Cole deserved a shot at happy-ever-after instead of what he got.

The plot escalates in this book although it didn’t exactly WOW me. This book was really fast paced and while in some parts that was good…in others it wasn’t.
The characters had a lot to worry about, and sometimes the book seemed a bit chaotic and fragmented as it jumped from action scene to action scene. There was so much tension and stress, we never got a chance to take a chance to breath and appreciate the characters for who they were.

As for the ending, I have a complaint similar to one I had for the Blood of Olympus. Everything just tied up too neatly for me…

My rating:

Cover: 4/5
Plot: 2.5/5
Characters:4/5
Romance:4/5
Plotholes:4/5
Ending:2/5
Overall Rating: 3/5
Will I Read Another Book By This Author: Yes, for sure. This series was one of my favourites. Alexandra Bracken is on my automatically- buy-books-from-this-author list.
Other Books Like This: Article 5 by Karen Simmons is a dystopia with a strong emphasis on ‘camps’.

YA Covers Worth More Than A Second Glance

Here’s a collage of the most beautiful young adult covers ever. They’re attached to some pretty good books too. So if you get the chance, do read them.

 

Here are the books on the list: (not in order of goregeousness):

  1. Everneath by Brodi Ashton
  2. Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken
  3. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
  4. Where She Went by Gayle Foreman
  5. My Name is Rapunzel by K.C. Hilton
  6. Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
  7. Altered by Jennifer Rush
  8. Die For Me by Amy Plum
  9. Taken by Erin Bowman
  10. Clockwork Princess by Cassendra Clare

The Darkest Minds:A Book Revew

Book: The Darkest Minds

Author/Authors: Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1)

Cover:2/5

There was nothing wrong with the cover …. But nothing really made it stand out (you would think that the orange on the cover would be like a flashing beacon, but no it actually isn’t). Combined with the fact that Disney was the publisher (I’m not really a Disney princess fan; not when they messed up the fairytales so much) , this book really didn’t look so appealing. So, I passed it up for a long time despite its good rating for other books with better covers (but inferior content). Moral of the story for publishers: Readers judge books by their covers. Moral of the story for readers: Trust your fellow readers and goodreads.com; seriously, they rarely guide you wrong.

Plot:5/5

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control. Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her-East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

The plot in this book deserves more than 5 stars. It was attention grabbing and I’ve definitely never seen something like this before in this genre. If any such book exists, it’s a cheap knockoff (even if that book was written earlier)

Characters:5/5

The characters in this book were amazing. From Ruby, the main character to Chubs (I guess his designation is the sidekick but he was too smart for me to think of him as one) to Zu, the adorable little girl who was mentally traumatized enough into not speaking. Most books have one character (if they’re lucky) who stands out. But the awesome thing about this book is that there are many such characters.

Ruby: Ruby starts off at the beginning of the book knowing almost nothing about the world she lives in. But she has a good reason for this. Ever since she turned 10, she’s been stuck in a rehabilitiation camp (the concentration variety) because the adults are scared of her awesome super powers. So far this sounds like the plot to a cheesy comic, right? Wrong. Let’s just drive the stakes a little bit higher. Majority of the children in America had succumbed to a mysterious illness and died. The rest…developed super powers. Naturally everyone was scared. So they stuck their kids in camps which were designed to make the powers go away. That’s one brilliant thing about this book: The government and adults acted almost exactly like you would expect them to act in such a situation. However because this is dystopian fiction, the camps are horrible. The children in them are mistreated- the most dangerous ones are killed, the rest are treated brutally, not allowed to talk, forced to do hard menial labour, etc. Disturbingly,there are several parallels between the ‘rehabilitation camps’ and the Jewish concentration camps set up in Nazi Germany during WWII. But this really didn’t set in for me until Ruby tells us how her mom had told she would be allowed to shave when she was 12 but she didn’t actually do so until she was almost 16. In this book, Ruby is special because she is one of the last ‘oranges’ (that’s a code name for her power level and basically means she can mess with people’s minds- literally! ) and also dangerous for that reason. But here’s the catch: She has no idea to control her powers. Right from the beginning we can see how much her powers scare her. With one touch, she erased her best friends memory. <spoiler> somewhere in the middle we learn that she also erased her parent’s memory and in the end she erases Liam’s memory.<okay, relax spoiler’s over>. Ruby’s a good character. She’s nice without being too sugary. Scared enough without being a total coward. Powerful but not invincible and awkward enough without being cringe-worthy.

Liam: If Ruby’s a good character, than Liam is an even better one. Having come from a less notorious camp, he’s less troubled than Ruby and much nicer, sweeter and more naive for it. Liam is the kind of guy who has an actual personality. As soon as he meets her, Liam is all for travelling with Ruby. However this is not because of some twisted love-at-first-sight thing (thank god!) but more a reflection of his personality. He’s not the type of love interest whose life would revolve around his love for the MC. Ahem, Malcahi from Sanctum, I’m looking at you. No, Liam had much more going for him such as his need to help others and his  loyalty to his friend. Definitely a swoon-worthy romantic love interest.

Zu: It’s hard to learn about a character who doesn’t talk. I mean, can’t talk. Although no one ever says what, it’s implied that Zu was tortured and tested upon in the camp and was so affected she stopped speaking. Despite the fact that she doesn’t talk, it wasn’t exactly hard to learn about her. She’s a yellow (that means she can make stuff explode) but more importantly, she’s a loving little girl who’s interested in dressing up, needs a serious dose of self-confidence and fiercely loyal to her family (whether they’re related to her by blood or just bound together by necessity).

Chubs: Chubs is a character I really enjoyed. Annoyingly assured his intelligence was superior, a little bit (okay, actually a lot) distrustful and insecure- he’s the type of character who grows on you. And he didn’t just grow on me as a reader, he grew on Ruby too. As he came to trust her more, they had surprisingly insightful and profound discussions.

Clancy: This is a character who oozes charisma (not surprising, since he is the President’s son). At first I was kind of annoyed with him for appearing because I really didn’t want a love triangle. But there’s a lot going on underneath the polished and charming exterior of this boy. I guess you could call him the villain of the piece but I was never really able to muster up any real hatred for this character (By the way, Ruby wasn’t able to either). Sure he was petty, arrogant and jealous with a strong cruel streak. But that somehow added to his charm (believe me, I know how messed up that sounds) but somehow he managed to make it all up with a short letter to Ruby.

R-

I lied. I would have run.

-C

 

Romance: 5/5

The romance in this book was surprisingly good. It wasn’t too heavy, neither was it too light. It didn’t hurt that the characters involved in it were so brilliant either.

Plotholes: 4/5

 This book was surprisingly realistic. I mean if a virus such as IANN did exist I could imagine the world (or at least America) going to Hell in a handbasket like this. Of course there were some unhealthy messages in here. For example, Ruby’s whole relationship with Clancy but the book made it clear that the relationship was unhealthy.

Overall Rating: 5/5

No, I’m not surprised I gave this book a five star rating and you shouldn’t be either. It was amazing, I promise you and totally deserves this rating. Buy this books as soon as possible so that you can read it over and over and over again.