These past few days I have spent reading Passenger and its just released sequel, Wayfarer, by Alexandra Bracken, which is about a thousand pages of time travel romance high body-count adventure through many centuries and many places. And I have just now finished Wayfarer, and it is almost my bedtime, but I do want to write about the books for Timeslip Tuesday....
So the gist of the story is that a modern teenager, Etta, finds out that she has the gift of travelling through time when her debut as a concert violinist ends up instead with her on board an 18th century privateering vessel. For the first half or so of Passenger, the reader gets an introduction to the whole set up of how time travel works in this scenario, and Etta and a young man Nicholas (born a slave, but with a rotten-souled white time-traveler father whose gift he inherited) fall in love. At which point a quest item is introduced--an astrolabe that can control the passages through time, and which many people of varying motivations want to get a hold of. One of these people is Nicholas' monstrous white grandfather, the head of that time traveler family. Another group are time travelers who oppose that family. And then, in Wayfarer, another astrolabe seeker is introduced, even more scary and powerful than the rest of them.
So Nicholas and Etta search for the astrolabe, and the body count gets pretty high as they travel through time, and then they almost have it, but things go wrong.
In Wayfarer, they are separated, but still searching for this incredibly powerful device that can be used to warp reality horribly, or make the time line regress to what it would naturally have been without time travel interference. The body count gets higher (and goodness, Nicholas, Etta, and various secondary characters are the most resilient bunch I've ever seen; it is unbelievable how they recover from broken ribs, horrible lacerations, and general exhaustion in order to fight more enemies the next day). There's a lot of fighting, which got a bit old, but what made Wayfarer gripping was that the motivations of the secondary characters became a lot more interesting, and because Etta and Nicholas weren't on the same page for most of the book, there was less of their passionate romance (which I feel bogged Passenger down a bit). Wayfarer also gives less page time to Nicholas' position as a black ex-slave in the 18th century, which was interesting social history and though provoking, but which has less relevance to the issues of survival central to Wayfarer.
Wayfarer, in short, though a bit longer page-wise, has much more action and adventure than Passenger, and a much faster pace. If you loved the romance of Passenger, you'll get a nice dose of that here, but not infusing the book as a whole. The best part of Passenger was the way in which Nicholas and Etta were able to put aside their temporally different cultural norms and work as partners, and the best part of Wayfarer was seeing people who had no reason to trust each other learning to do so. (Aside--a nascent LGBT romance is a part of this, and if I could have one more bit of story from this world, this is what I'd like to see more of. I sure do hope it works out for them).
Though these two books together constitute a long read, and would not have suffered greatly from the loss of a 100 pages (which equals about 30 violent encounters), and though I would have liked a bit more realism re. wound recovery time, the reading experience is a satisfying one, especially as one reaches the end with its teasing promise of .........(that is me teasing!). I don't think I'll need to read the books again, but I'm very happy to have spent the past few days with them, mostly because the characters grew on me, but also because of the vivid images of all the different times (though not so much the vivid images of all the ways people died....).
With regard to the time travel--it was one of those time travel set ups that make my brain hurt too much to try to see if it made sense, with alternate versions of the future popping up and down all over the place, and people not being able to go to the same time twice (which I'm not sure was a rule as carefully followed as it could have been). Passenger is better for time-travel cultural dislocation, and does it well. Wayfarer is more time-travel as insane kaleidoscope of experience, but with very memorable alternate version of the last czar and a delayed Russian revolution....