Wednesday, July 25, 2012

PASSENGER by Andrew Smith

Jack, Connor, Griffin, and Ben break the Marbury lens, catapulting each of them into various versions of Marbury with various levels of chaos. The only problem? They can’t get out. Not only that, but Jack didn’t “mind the gap” and he’s somehow changed the course of their futures. Now, the boys have to find each other to figure out a way home, and to correct their tampering of the gap, before the hunters find them.

Smith recreates the high intensity, action-packed world of Marbury, but instead of giving the reader glimpses, he allows us to visit it for 400+ pages. PASSENGER fills in all of the gaps left from THE MARBURY LENS. As a result, readers really need to read book one before diving onto book two; otherwise, they will be lost. As a result, THE MARBURY LENS is more of an appetizer to prepare the reader for his journey into Marbury while PASSENGER is the main course. (In fact, I felt as though I was the passenger on Jack’s journey to make it home.)

This novel is so well written that the reader finds himself emotionally invested in the lives of the main characters. Through each suspenseful and thrilling scene, the reader tenses to find out if all of the boys will make it home. Unfortunately, among all of this greatness, I do have one pet peeve to express; then I’ll go back to how amazing it is.

I get very frustrated when novels incorporate romantic elements when they don’t need them. For instance, THE MARBURY LENS (Book 1) needed Nickie to move the plot along, so having that storyline made sense; however, the focus of PASSENGER had shifted so that Nickie wasn’t needed in PASSENGER (book 2). As a result, when she was referenced, it broke up the intensity and flow of the plot to the point that I was literally yelling at the book, “Oh, come on! Forget her. I want more hunters, harvesters, and worms!”


Having expressed my views of unnecessary romantic elements within strong plotlines, I can’t say that I didn’t see the love interest between Connor and Jack happening. In fact, it was alluded to so heavily throughout both books that I wondered if their friendship ran much deeper than “bromance.” However, I feel as though it was still unnecessary. For me, the focus of the novel was the survival of four boys in a savage world where they didn’t belong. They showed undying commitment, sacrifice, and bravery to make sure everyone made it out okay. For me, the book should have ended once all of the boys made it home because that was the focus of the book. When the romance between Jack and Connor took place, the entire focus of the novel shifted and it detracted from the focus of the main point. Some may argue that the author needed to include this information to tie up loose ends, but, “Hello?!” The entire novel is full of loose ends. There are still questions that I have that will probably never be answered.


I loved the action and intensity of THE MARBURY LENS and PASSENGER.  I devoured these books, and I’m not a sci-fi fan. I fell in love with these books. I fell in love with the characters. I didn’t want the books to end. In fact, Mr. Smith, will you PLEASE write a third? I would like to have it from Henry Hewitt’s perspective.

Concerns: From an educator’s perspective, these books contain a lot of language, violence, and sexual references. As a result, be aware of these issues and possible concerns that parents may have, but don’t withhold them from your libraries. Some students will be mature enough to handle the content, and some may not. Basically, you need to read the novels yourself to decide how you will incorporate them into your classroom. 

ARC courtesy of ALA 2012
Publication Date: October 2012

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