Wayfarer is the second book of Alexandra Bracken's Passenger duology, and it picks up right where Passenger itself left off: with Nicholas and Sophia searching for the astrolabe and Etta, and Etta herself being "orphaned" to a timeline that's no longer her own due to changes that have been made in the past.
In this second volume, Bracken continues the wonderful trend she began in the first one with utilizing places and times that are rarely, if ever, seen in young adult fiction. From Carthage during the time of the third Punic War to the Vatican in 1499, before it was filled with the art that makes it so known today, Bracken shuttles her characters about into wonderful times and places. And now she's actually begun messing with the timeline itself, too, showing alternative possibilities--a version of Russia in which Nicholas II wasn't killed (until he was) and a New York ravaged by nuclear warfare before the United States was able to enter into World War II. The possibilities are both dazzling and terrifying at the same time, showing the rippling effects that changing a small event can have on the timeline as a whole. She also continues to have interesting characters, bringing in Li Min as a new addition--a Chinese girl who has served as a pirate, assassin, thief, etc. and has an intriguing past.
But overall, this book isn't as strong as the first. Though Nicholas and Etta's relationship moved quickly in the first book, it was still a compelling part of the plot, and that's largely missing here as the two remain separated until the climactic events. Without their attraction and bond to propel the plot, Bracken throws in a side romance that only kind of develops, between Li Min and Sophia (lending a LGBT dynamic to the book as well, though it's very minor) as well as what I think was meant to be a web of intrigues, which also only kind of develops. Henry Hemlock is introduced in this book (which was kind of strange because for some reason I thought he was dead) as Etta's father and I kept waiting for some grand scheme to center around him and his "I just want a relationship with you" act, but it wasn't an act and there actually wasn't any further depths to that part of the story. Bracken tries to explain the origins of time travel and add in another enemy to face, but that only kind of develops to and just floats around in the background as a side bit. And then Nicholas, in his search for Etta, ends up poisoned as some sort of incentive for him to kill Cyrus Ironwood, which doesn't make any sense at all...because why would you poison someone in a way that impedes them from actually doing what you want?
While the traveling remained breathtaking and the characters were good, this one didn't feel as well-thought-out as Passenger did. It rather suffered from second book syndrome, feeling incomplete, and it's especially problematic as it's the final book as well, with no third volume to redeem it.
3 stars out of 5.