Passenger vs. A Thousand Pieces of You

WARNING::  This review does contain some light spoilers.

Happy weekend everyone!

I’ve been lucky enough to read some great YA books lately and since I seem to have some spare time today I thought I should get on WordPress and tell you about them:)

Having only recently finished both Passenger and A Thousand Pieces of You, I was struck by how similar they are. Both stories involve a young woman travelling through space and/or time. In Passenger, Etta Spencer travels through time and in ATPOY Marguerite travels to other dimensions. Both protagonists have a mission to complete and both are accompanied by a potential love interest (in Marguerite’s case it is one part of her love triangle). Both Etta and Marguerite face villains bent on controlling different dimensions/time periods.

Given the similarities I’ve decided to combine my reviews of these books and compare them.

Title Passenger A Thousand Pieces of You
Author Alexandra Bracken Claudia Gray
Published January 5th, 2016 November 4th, 2014
Pages 486 360
Synopsis This journey is only the beginning…In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Pulled back through time to 1776 in the midst of a fierce sea battle, she has traveled not only miles, but years from home.

With the arrival of this unusual passenger on his ship, privateer Nicholas Carter has to confront a past that he can’t escape and the powerful Ironwood family who won’t let him go without a fight. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value; one they believe only Etta can find.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by an enigmatic traveler. 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 from Nicholas, and her way home, forever.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their ground-breaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite’s father is murdered, and the killer—her parent’s handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul’s guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is far more sinister than she expected.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores an amazingly intricate multi-universe where fate is unavoidable, the truth elusive, and love the greatest mystery of all.

Goodreads Rating 3.90 3.95
My Rating 3.5 3
Let’s Compare…
The Protagonists

Etta Spencer (Passenger) is a strong young woman trying to find her place in the world, pursue her dreams and connect with her ever distant mother. In many respects she is typical YA heroine, strong but insecure in some ways, beautiful but unaware of her beauty and talented but never proud. However, Etta shows a great deal of inner strength and manages to avoid some of the more cliche YA heroine mishaps. Etta has no idea about time travel and takes it all relatively well! I would expect a teenage girl unexpectedly dragged through time after finding the body of someone she cares about to be a little more unhinged!

Unlike Etta, Marguerite has some background knowledge about what it is her parents are involved in, but is a fish out of water as an artsy girl in a science family. I really like the contrast here and the underlying message that we should value people for their individual strengths. I also enjoyed the strong family relationship in ATPOY, it could have been very easy for the author to go with the common ‘single distant parent/parents dead’ YA trope that is everywhere these days, but Gray actually spends some time showing Marguerite’s connection to her family.

Despite this I did find Marguerite a bit bland compared to Etta, but both protagonists have their strengths and I didn’t dislike either of them.

In Passenger, Nicholas Carter is also a main character, with the chapters split between his perspective and Etta’s. Nicholas is an underdog, constantly facing discrimination and prejudice because of his racial background. Despite existing in a society that views him as lesser, Nicholas still manages to maintain an inner strength and dignity. He works hard to achieve his goals and is already a strong character when Etta enters his world. In fact, Nicholas is probably my favorite hero, as he is better developed than both Marguerite or Etta.

Winner: Passenger (because of Nicholas)
The Adventure

Both Passenger and ATPOY see the heroes travel to a range of exciting and dangerous places. Using the literary devices of time travel and inter-dimensional travel Bracken and Gray send their respective protagonists on a myriad of adventures. As a reader I was most excited when it became apparent that the main characters were going to travel again, as I had no idea where they were going to end up! This was true for both books, although you can work out Etta and Nicholas’s trajectory if you pay attention to the clues at the beginning of the book.

Winner: Tie!
The Love Interest(s)

The love triangle in ATPOY isn’t really much of a love triangle as it becomes clear to the reader fairly early on that Marguerite belongs with Paul (the blurb on the back of the books hints heavily at this as well.) Paul is the strong, silent type, who is misunderstood by those around him. Theodore is the typical YA bad boy and while his admiration of Marguerite is endearing, it is blatantly obvious that all his bad boy charm cannot match Paul’s quiet integrity. Paul and Marguerite have some great moments across the novel, but on the whole the romance is safe and predictable.

The romance in Passenger is a bit more compelling. Etta and Nicholas are from different worlds entirely, thrown together by circumstance, their relationship has real obstacles. Nicholas is truly a man of his time, devoted to his career as a sailor, he knows the only way to achieve his dreams is to cast Etta aside. Additionally, a marriage between Etta and Nicholas is illegal in his time period, as Nicholas is dark-skinned. Etta is also determined to return to her home and Nicholas sees no place for himself there.

Winner: Passenger
The Villain

The villain in Passenger is Cyrus Ironwood, the leader of the cutthroat Ironwood clan, the most powerful time travelling family. Cyrus is almost too Machiavellian at times, going as far as to threaten Etta with poverty and eventual forced prostitution (because she is a girl trapped in the 18th century) if she disobeys him. While his villainy is dark and entertaining it does seem a little cartoonish at times.

The villain in ATPOY is Wyatt Conley, who has the opposite problem in that he doesn’t seem very threatening. There are some “so we meet again” moments with Marguerite (especially in the 2nd book), but Wyatt seems lax in pursuing his villainous goals. With Marguerite floundering through the dimensions like a bull in a china shop it seems like Wyatt just isn’t trying hard enough if he can’t subdue a naive teenage girl.

On the whole I preferred Cyrus Ironwood, as his form of villainy better suited my tastes. He’s no Voldemort, but manages an aura of dignified menace that I hope will be fine tuned in further books. Cyrus is also accompanied by other member of the Ironwood clan that are less menacing, but still manage to muck things up for our heroes (hats off to Sophia in this regard – she is a great character).

Winner: Passenger
Verdict…

While both novels have strengths, Passenger stands out for its strong character development and excellent world-building. I read these books back-to-back and was much more engaged by Passenger than ATPOY. The descriptive imagery is also a lot stronger in Passenger, making the adventure more tangible and enthralling.

Have you read Passenger or A Thousand Pieces of You? Which did you prefer?

Thank you for stopping by 🙂

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