Author: Alexandra Bracken
Date of Publication: 3rd January 2017
Synopsis: The sequel to Passenger sees Etta and Nicholas separated; searching through time for both each other and the infamous Astrolabe.
This book was provided in exchange for an honest review. My thanks go to Alexandra Bracken, Hatchette Children’s Group and Netgalley for the opportunity
When I read Passenger about a year ago I was left with love hate feelings for the book. At times the pace pulled me along, breathless and excited to see what happened next. Yet also there were dense periods of unnecessary introspection and exposition which weighed down those shining moments; ultimately tarnishing them. I found the lead characters dull in comparison to the supporting ones; always aching for more of the latter and instead being weighed down by an abundance of the former.
Unfortunately I found Wayfarer much the same – with the caveat that pacing is certainly improved here and there is lot more from the characters I loved. Alexandra Bracken did a lot of laying down of framework in the first instalment, which left Wayfarer with many, many strands to tie up. Ultimately that wasn’t a bad thing, because it kept things interesting. Yet somehow, despite everything that was going on, Wayfarer still felt far, far too long.
Firstly a potentially unpopular opinion – I liked Etta and Nicholas being separated. I found their journeys with Julian and the Thorns and Sophia and Li Minh (respectively) far more interesting than their shared adventures in the first book. Perhaps this is because the side characters are easily as compelling, if not more so, as our heroes. I know the central romance is supposed to be a massive part of the book, but it never really worked for me. Therefore the less of it, in my eyes, the better (in fact, let’s swap it for Sophia and Li Minh!).
One plot point I couldn’t get enough of was Etta and her Father. Without spoiling who that is, or their role in the book, I found every single scene they were in together to be raw and heartbreaking whilst at the same time wholly joy filled. Bracken wrote something incredibly real when she wrote that relationship and it was probably the thing that will sit with me longest in this duology.
In contrast to the good, there was the not so good. Ironwood didn’t feel like he was given the time to really dominate the lives of the characters; always a hissed name and a changing landscape as opposed to an actual presence. Whilst his actions were terrifying, I wanted more than just consequences of his actions – I wanted a character I could loathe. The other big bad, to be frank, I found faintly ridiculous, as menacing as it was supposed to be. If there had been more build up I would definitely have bought into them but, as it stands, I just didn’t see the point of their inclusion.
Wayfarer is definitely an improvement on its predecessor but for me there was always a slight sense of wistful disappointment for what might have been. Bracken is undoubtedly a talented writer. She is also to be applauded for including both a non-white male lead and non-het supporting characters into a genre sorely lacking both. However I found her plots in this case are too multitudinous; making a strong concept unnecessarily drawn out and messy. A sharper edit and this duology would be amazing. As it stands I’m still in that same love-hate place I was twelve months ago.