Book Review: Passenger


Happy Saturday!  It is time for another book review.  Saturday Book Reviews are a part of my Daily Post; to learn more about it, click here.


Best friends Jack and Conner can’t stay away from Marbury. It’s partly because of their obsession with this alternate world and the unresolved war that still wages there. But it’s also because forces in Marbury—including the darkest of the dark, who were not revealed in The Marbury Lens—are beckoning the boys back in order to save their friends . . . and themselves.

The boys try to destroy the lens that transports them to Marbury. But that dark world is not so easily reckoned with. Reality and fantasy, good and evil—Andrew Smith’s masterpiece closes the loop that began withThe Marbury Lens. But is it really closed? Can it ever be?-Goodreads summary

Judge the Book by its Cover:

  • The back of this book has the Marbury Lens from the first book, and the front of the book has the Marbury Lens from the second book.  I like that!  It symbolizes the unification of the two plots!  These images are also nice because they reinforce the way readers picture these mysterious lenses.

Things that Made Me Happy:

  • Smith writes some of the clearest and most vivid descriptions in YA fiction.  Through his writing, every scene was perfectly visible in my head.  At one point in the book, Jack falls in the world of Marbury and gets ash and granulated human bones in his mouth.  Somehow, I got a similar taste in my mouth from Smith’s descriptions.  Nasty, but it reflects his ability to truly convey the story to its audience.
  • His descriptions lead into some pretty wonderful world building, as well.  Smith builds off the old world of Marbury and creates a completely new Marbury in this novel.  Of course, both these worlds are intriguing.  However, the new Marbury was more complex and mysterious than the old world.  Therefore, this helped generate an action-packed plot and led the boys to uncover the mystery of this messed up world.
  • I enjoyed reading about the “Marbury Jack.”  To me he was a fantastic leader who persevered through many struggles.  While many people would have quit, Jack continuously fought for his friends and himself.
  • Lastly, I enjoyed the continuation of Jack’s psychology in this book.  For those of you who recall, in the first book Jack was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a man named Freddie Hovarth.  Since that moment, Jack has suffered with anxiety and experienced some PTSD symptoms.  While Jack never talked to adults about his experiences, it was interesting to read how these events affected him, particularly how he viewed Marbury as a sort of “justifiable hell” for him.  Passenger took place six months after his kidnapping, but the event continued to haunt him.  Again, he viewed the new twisted Marbury as his punishment.  To me, this was thought-provoking.  Is this world of Marbury Jack’s escape from reality?  Does he consider it a safe place and provide some sort of comfort the real world can’t offer?  It was very interesting.

Things that Made Me Unhappy:

  • Overall, I found this book to be too long.  Once I got about halfway through it, I was bored.  Events kept recurring, and characters were stuck.  The development was simply too slow.  I would have preferred Smith continued with plot and character developments instead of repeating events to reinforce the “trapped in Marbury” theme.  I got it the first few times!  Additionally, the book could have done without the 100 page ending.  It was unnecessary.  I know this is horrid, but I kind of thought Smith took the length of this book to be a tribute to his masculinity.  Cool, you write big books…
  • Speaking of Smith’s masculinity, this book portrayed girls horribly.  First, this new Marbury has only four known human females.  Since this world is extremely impoverish, these women frequently used their sexuality in this testosterone-filled environment to get what they wanted.  Was it cunning?  No.  It was offensive.  The men in these books would fight over who got to have sex with these girls, and the girls were all la-di-da about it.  Additionally, Smith portrayed Jack’s girlfriend, Nickie, as being a sex-crazed animal.  In the novel Jack stated something about how Nickie had sex with him all night and all day.  Jack always “blamed” these sexual encounters on Nickie’s desires.  He averted all responsibility for these acts and just was like, “Sorry, man.  She’s just a lady in the streets and freak in the sheets.”  No, Smith.  That is not okay.  Do you think Smith is finished with his “I hate women” motto?  Oh, no, my friends.  He’s not.  In the book Jack, Conner, and some of their school friends make jokes about how it is okay to lie to women/their girlfriends because they will never figure out because they’re basically stupid.  Excuse me, what?  I believe the “Women are awful creatures” theme is the most prevalent in this novel.
  • The “new romance” between Jack and Conner was bizarre.  It didn’t make sense to me.  Jack claimed that he loved Nickie, and she was the most beautiful girl in the world, but he had these moments with Conner, which didn’t make any sense.  I think the relationship between Jack and Nickie was more genuine and provided a sort of  “real life” comfort that he desperately needed, but, of course, Smith can’t have respectable happy females in his novels.
  • While I do overall like the character of Jack, I increasingly grew annoyed with him at the end.  He was so indecisive.  Here’s a shorten version of my interpretation of Jack’s persona: I want something; I got it; I’m supposed to be happy, but, naturally, I’m not; I want old thing; I got old thing; I’m supposed to be happy, but, naturally, I’m not; I want the old old thing; I got old old thing; I’m supposed to be happy, but, naturally, I’m not; REPEAT; REPEAT; REPEAT.  GAH!
  • Lastly, why is Smith even considering writing another book in this trilogy/series?  It would not be worth reading.  I feel the book would be just as dragged out like  Passenger’s ending.  No, I will not pursue this series any longer.

My Rating:

★★★ 3/5 stars!  While a lot of the latter half annoyed me, I still liked the overall story.  It’s a very unique tale with some epic world building.


I’d recommend this book to those who enjoy young adult fiction, action, adventure, science fiction, and fantasy novels.

Happy reading!


Currently Reading: The End Games.

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