Genre: Fantasy, Time Travel, Historical, Young Adult
All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected - Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master's heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta's past could put them both at risk.Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travellers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realises that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognisable ... and might just run out on both of them.
I had been looking forward to this book for a good long while. I mean, as soon as I finished Passenger I knew I wanted to read the next book. I know a lot of people didn’t like Passenger but I was in love with it and I am not ashamed of that fact. I got why people didn’t like it but I just wasn’t one of them. As soon as I saw this book available on Netgalley from one of my favourite publishers I requested straight away.
Now, anyone who has read my Sunday posts will know I couldn’t for the life of me remember the story in full from Passenger. I thought I did. I remembered the ending and some of the middle, but I couldn’t remember the names of all the characters (a continual problem of mine). It wasn’t until I was 20% in that I learnt that Alexandra Bracken had posted a recap on her blog. Once I read that I really got into the book.
I do have to say, even if I had remembered everything from Passenger, I still wouldn’t have awarded 5 stars to it. Much like the first one kept unnecessary secrets, this one kept our main characters apart for far too long and there were far too many misunderstandings and too much misdirection. It really annoyed me at times that Nicholas and Etta were so close to being able to see one another and then there was another obstacle in their way. By the end, I got the reason for it all but that doesn’t help make the first three-quarters of the book better for me. Now, my annoyance may partially have been because I forgot about that element when reading the first book so I might have expected it if I’d read the books together. Unfortunately, I didn’t.
Apart from minor grumbles and my own bias, though, this book was utterly fantastic. I mean, I hated the near misses, but much like the epic cliffhanger ending seemed to redeem Passenger for me, the ending of this books also seemed to redeem the sequel. Maybe Bracken is just writing these endings that almost make you forget about your complaints from the beginning of the book? I couldn’t see how she was going to resolve many of the issues of time travel and the astrolabe in time for the ending and still give me the kind of ending that I wanted but somehow Bracken did and that was truly impressive if I do say so myself.
Another thing which impressed me was the way Bracken turned these characters around from the first book. Nicholas was such a great character who had serious doubts about himself throughout the two books. Questioning the decisions he made (constantly, it was almost annoying) and he was this deep thinker who was obviously meant to take the path he did despite his struggles. He wasn’t flawless, he made poor decisions which deeply affected those around him, but he really did do it for the right reasons. And there was Etta who doubted herself throughout her adventures because she had been lied to constantly, how could anyone be surprised that she began to deeply doubt many close to her, especially her mother. She was thrown into the deep end, and this book when she meets her father I get why she was so quick to embrace him when all her mother had ever done was push her away. I have to say, Sophia became one of my favourite characters in this book. She may have lost an eye and could no longer pursue an opportunity as the Ironwood heir, but she revealed a lot about what motivated her. She came from an upbringing which was less than desirable, and much like Nick she wanted security for herself and she was willing to do whatever she could get it In this book she developed to care about others around her as well, though, and that was brilliant.
I loved how this book was also about family and what made a family. Each of the characters discovered a family and that didn’t necessarily include those they were related to by blood. I love when friendships become family bonds in a book and that these characters, although they weren’t always great people, all seemed to be pursuing a goal of protecting those close to them, even if it put themselves at risk.
In the end, this was a really good adventure and I loved the conclusion to the duology. I know others will take issue with the ending because it isn’t flawless and I know it. I am not deluded of that fact, but somehow I just can’t seem to care as much about the flaws when I enjoyed the story itself. I am that person who can like the worst books sometimes and I don’t care.
Has anyone else read this ending to the duology? Did you enjoy it? Am I alone in book amnesia issues (why are names so hard)? And do you find yourself rating a book higher when you really enjoyed the ending?