review: The Passenger by Lisa Lutz



Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I appreciate it!

The Passenger is a four star book in terms of sheer ‘unputdownability’ but 3 stars in terms of the story line and how it’s executed. Lutz has talent, there’s no doubting that, but in the end, I was left cold by this book and especially by certain aspects.

The Passenger is ostensibly about a woman running scared after the death of her husband. Although she says it was an accident, she still doesn’t fancy speaking with the police and takes drastic measures: leaves town, dyes her hair, changes her name and even switches up her drink order – all to ensure she stays out of the spotlight.

Through her travels, she meets a bartender named Blue, and that’s when the story gets a touch of the whackadoodle about it. Where I had trouble – and still do – is the lack of any kind of psychological weight to the ‘heroine’s’ actions. It’s difficult to discuss without spoilers, but as an example (this does not happen in the book), the text reads like, “Then Tanya shot him in the back. He died. She and Blue drove home.”

Okay, so that’s WHAT happened. But how did you feel about it? Are you haunted by it? Changed by it? How do you go from shooting someone in the head to walking calmly to your Jeep unless you are truly evil? And she’s not supposed to be, from what I gather – especially given the ending. All she truly seems to care about is drinking bourbon, having hot showers and eating burgers. Which, if your life is regular, fine. If you’re on the run from the police and kind of crazy, perhaps there are other priorities?

Tanya/Amelia/Debra is truly a ‘passenger’ in this sense. She never seems touched by anything.  Oh, I suppose she genuinely does seem to like Domencio, who is about as irritating a romantic hero as I can imagine anyone being. Why is he interested in her? Why does she like him? There is not a single reason for it, and yet… here we are.

Don’t get me wrong… this is definitely an entertaining, easy read. I raced through it. But it lacks the depth I was hoping for. It lacks any reason for me to really connect with Tanya/Amelia/Debra or hope for her absolution and forgiveness. I wanted to root for her in some sense, even if she did do terrible things. But I felt … cold. She didn’t evoke anything other than blankness.

There are also weird subplots (Reginald… the whole Paige thing) and some lovely touches (Andrew), but in the end, this just didn’t thrill me in the true sense.

I still predict it’ll be a huge best seller.


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