Author: Alexandra Bracken
Series: Book 2 in the Passenger duology
Genre: YA, fantasy, time travel, historical fiction
Format: hardback; purchased
Synopsis: 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 travelers 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 realizes 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 unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.
HI FRIENDS! *waves from behind my computer screen.* It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here, due to a technical problem I was having with WordPress. But *hopefully* I’m back for good now. In all the time that passed I got really behind on my posts, so I won’t be doing an unboxing for the February Fairyloot anymore (although let me know if you’d still be interested in reading an unboxing post, if I get enough response I might still do it). Anyways, let’s get to my review. It will contain minor spoilers for Wayfarer and Passenger.
Where do I even start with this book? On one hand, it barely kept my attention, but on another, it absolutely blew my mind with unpredictable twists and overwhelming feels. Last year, I read and loved Passenger (click here for my review), so naturally I spent most of the time leading up to Wayfarer’s release burning with questions and dying for more of the story. Unfortunately, it didn’t really live up to my expectations. To make a blanket statement, I would say that Wayfarer focuses heavily on a lot of the things that I didn’t like about Passenger. But, there are still a few new aspects about Wayfarer that I very much enjoyed. And, I should make it known that I took an entire month to read this book (another reason I haven’t been blogging too much recently). So, most likely, a lot of the issues I had with Wayfarer stem from the fact that my reading was inconsistent and choppy. I couldn’t absorb the story the way I really wanted to, and I probably forgot a few plot points as I was reading.
I wouldn’t usually do this, but I decided to set up my review as a pros and cons list (of a sort). I’ll get the negative stuff out of the way first:
Wayfarer has no plot. I think this book suffers from the “traveling syndrome” (which I have conveniently just created the name for). Basically, 85% of the book follows Nicholas and Etta as they each meander around different parts of the globe, throughout time. But Mia, isn’t that what a time travel book is supposed to be about? Yes, my friends, you are absolutely correct. However, with Wayfarer, I couldn’t for the life of me keep track of why the characters repeatedly switch locations and jump through portals. Each time they’re supposedly trying to find a certain person or item, are following some flimsy hint given to them by the person before, or simply getting run out of town by attackers – all in a long-term attempt to find either Etta or the astrolabe. It’s all very thin and confusing and insubstantial. At times it’s achingly boring, and I had to force myself to pick up the book. If the “endgame goal” of finding Etta and the astrolabe had been consistent, I might’ve been able to live with the weak plot threads. But right from the start, both Nicholas and Etta seem determined to change their motivations every other chapter. For example, Etta at first wants to destroy the astrolabe, but after (very unbelievable) convincing from her father, she decides it must be preserved and hidden. Instances like this happen repeatedly throughout the book with both Etta and Nicholas – between the two I got quite frustrated.
This leads me to my second point. Wayfarer is plain confusing, though really just in the beginning. I had a hard time getting back into the story because of all the talk about multiple time lines, and changing character arcs, and alterations to the timeline made by various entities. Similar conversation appears in Passenger, but I felt that it’s explained somewhat poorly in Wayfarer. As soon as I thought I understood, the characters would make a vague statement that contradicted earlier assumptions, and I found myself flipping through pages to understand what the heck these people were even talking about. Luckily, I was able to move past a lot of that, but it didn’t put me off to a good start.
On a more specific note, I really wish the reader had gotten a more in-depth look at Henry and Rose. Their story honestly intrigues me so much, whenever they’re in a scene it feels 10 times more exciting! I love the tension between them and the obvious history, if Alex wrote an entire book about them I would definitely read it. Truth be told, I would probably like it better than the Passenger duology!
Finally, Wayfarer doesn’t focus nearly as much on the actual time traveling, which was my favorite part of Passenger. I felt like the various events that take place in Wayfarer are very isolated from their surroundings – meaning they could’ve happened at any place on the planet, at any time in history. I can name maybe three places the characters travel to in Wayfarer, even though I just finished it a week ago; but I think I could name nearly every location the characters go in Passenger, despite having read it last year. Personally, I really love getting a glimpse into different cultures and areas of life throughout time, but Wayfarer doesn’t do a great job of portraying that.
Alright, now for the good stuff! I swear I actually did like this book!
What Wayfarer lacks in plot, it makes up for in characters. We get to see so much development across the board, especially with Sophia and Li Min (a brand new character)! While I felt like Passenger was probably Etta’s story, Wayfarer definitely centers around Nicholas, and his search for true freedom in a world that constantly works to restrain him. I loved seeing him develop his own dreams and motivations aside from Etta, he really shapes the character of Wayfarer (and its ending too). He battles with himself as much as he battles outside forces, and I have a huge renewed appreciation for him!
Speaking of appreciation: I couldn’t have been happier to see that Wayfarer includes another POC character and a F/F romance! Sophia and Li Min are ridiculously cute together, and complement each other beautifully. They provide a nice, sturdy contrast to Etta and Nicholas, who spend the vast majority of the book worrying about each other. Li Min herself is such an awesome character, I wish she had been introduced in Passenger so we could’ve spent more time with her! I loved seeing how she and Nicholas struggle with prejudice and racism together, but suffer from it in different ways. We also get to meet the infamous Julian, who evolves quite a bit by the end of the book, and makes a very charming traveling companion for Etta.
If there’s one thing that kept me reading, however, it was the introduction of the Shadows, and the dark tale about the origins of the time travelers. I always had questions about that particular topic myself, and it’s captivating on so many levels. It adds a necessary layer of mystery and intensity to the whole book..
The ending was definitely my favorite part of the whole book, it’s action-packed with probably a dozen different twists, and I got all the feels. Unfortunately, as soon as I felt myself getting super invested in the story and the characters, it all ended. I find that I suffer from this a lot, am I the only one? That being said, Wayfarer has one particularly insane plot twist at the end that I wanted to smack myself on the head for not predicting before. The last 30 pages or so had my heart-pounding, I had no clue how so much was gonna get tied up in so little time, but I never should’ve doubted Alex. It was perfectly heartfelt and very satisfying.
Wow, that was a long review! I definitely didn’t intend for that to be so long, but I say that every time don’t I? If you didn’t much care for Passenger, or are on the fence, then I would probably suggest skipping out on Wayfarer. But if you read Passenger and enjoyed it, then you don’t want to miss out on this sequel! Just be prepared to put your patience hat on for a while.