I've been working on Alexandra Bracken's Wayfarer, the sequel to Passenger, for a few months now and it's been quite a ride. I liked Passenger despite it being a bit too long and some stretches of the novel was, well, rather slow and boring. I had hopes for Wayfarer but my opinions of it have shifted back and forth quite a lot during the four months it took reading it.

Wayfarer picks up right after the end of Passenger. Etta Spencer has been orphaned by the timeline, parted from Nicholas and ending up with the Thorns. Henry Hemlock, leader of the Thorns and also Etta’s father, is on a quest of finding the much sought-after Astrolabe to restore the timeline to its original state. Across the centuries, Nicholas must team up with Sophia in their search of the Astrolabe and Etta. Every traveller knows that the Astrolabe is on the lose and they’re all looking for it. The one who finds it controls space and time and everyone have their own agenda. Etta shares her father’s wish and wants to restore the timeline. Cyrus Ironwood wants to save his first love. Sophia wants to become the ruler of all travellers and Nicholas wants to destroy it, no matter the cost. There are other travellers in the shadows that wants the Astrolabe for even menacing reasons and they will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. The question is, who will find it first and what changes will that bring to the timeline?

While Passenger was a bit tedious and slow at times I thought Wayfarer would be more fast-paced since there was even more at stake here. The novel is 500+ pages but I figured there was a lot of ground to cover and while that's true it was still a bit tedious and slow at times. Bracken writes beautifully, but sometimes she spends a full page describing the surroundings. Details about the floor, the ceiling, the walls, the carpets, the curtains… you get the picture. I usually like this but in both Passenger and Wayfarer it all got too much. It took up so much space while putting the story on hold. It took a long time to read this novel because somethings I just couldn’t be bothered with it.

Another reason for why it took me months to finish this was because it felt like they travelled too much. Both Etta and Nicholas, on their separate journeys, gathered valuable information on their travels but at times it felt like some journeys were just… too much. Not useless, exactly (although it did feel like that from time to time) but they were fighting all the time and going to places that didn’t mean much and all those details about the colour of the carpet and yeah. It was just too much. Like I said, the novel is written beautifully but the text itself was heavy to read. It took forever to get anywhere, there was so, so much information. I wanted a respite, a chance for both the characters and myself to rest and the novel didn’t give me that so at times I got bored with the whole thing and just put it away. I also thought that Etta and Nicholas was kept apart for too long and should've met sooner. I am glad I finished it, though, because there are a lot of good things in Wayfarer and here are some of them.

First, the characters. They’re amazing. Bracken have created an impressive set of characters with personal motive and they all carry the story forward. Both Etta and Nicholas are strong and smart, just like two main characters are supposed to be. The only thing I still have a problem with regarding them is the insta-love but alas, I guess you can’t have everything. They both evolve a great deal during the novel and it’s very fun following them along. I liked seeing how they solved problems, how they prioritized, how they seemed to put the good of the world before the good of themselves. They also have their own separate lives and dreams. They’re two complete people who can function on their own but they're even stronger together because they work as a team. They’re incredible and I really liked them. They were the perfect pair to shoulder this intense and rough journey.

I think all the characters are well-made (and one of the new characters was very interesting) but I particularly enjoyed Sophia. In the first novel she’s rather mean and something of a bitch, I guess. In Passenger it’s easy to hate her because of the person you think she is but in Wayfarer it’s explained why she is the way she is and it also turns out that she’s not at all as you’d thought. I liked that she was something of a villain in the first instalment but that Bracken explained her thoroughly in this novel. It’s easy to hate the villain of any story, but I think it’s important to remember that the villain is (well, for the most part) a human and that they think what they’re doing is good on some level. If you try to understand the villain you’re left with a deeper understanding of the story. Bracken explored this, making the villain (both Sophia and Cyrus Ironwood) more human in the eyes of both the reader and the characters. Not only did this give another dimension in the characters but it also made me see these characters in a different light. Sophia was awful and did awful things but when that was explained, when you saw it all from her point of view, it all got so much clearer. She’s a very interesting character, my favourite actually. Also, a big plus for making her a LGBTQ character.

The second reason I liked this novel was all the interesting places that the characters travelled to and all the research that went in to the story to make it as real and believable as possible. It was exciting and amazing to see so many moments in time. The third reason is the writing, because the writing is very good. If not for all the descriptions, this novel would be absolutely outstanding. I liked the ending as well, although the epilogue fell a  bit short for me. Despite all this I still thought this was a five-star read and I recommend it very much.