Book Title and Author: The Passengers by John Marrs
Publication Date and Publisher: August 27, 2019 by Berkley Books
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 352 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: August 6, 2019 (finished copy from the publisher)
You’re riding in your self-driving car when suddenly the doors lock, the route changes and you have lost all control. Then, a mysterious voice tells you, “You are going to die.”
Just as self-driving cars become the trusted, safer norm, eight people find themselves in this terrifying situation, including a faded TV star, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man.
From cameras hidden in their cars, their panic is broadcast to millions of people around the world. But the public will show their true colors when they are asked, “Which of these people should we save?…And who should we kill first?”
Reading John Marrs’ newest book The Passengers was like watching a blockbuster Hollywood movie: you’re on the edge of your seat the entire time with suspense “watching” the brilliant action scenes unfold (because Marrs’ writing is so realistic you feel as if you’re right there), experiencing the unexpected disasters and jawdropping cliffhanger chapters―then that surprising ending! This would make an excellent film! As you can probably tell, I freaking loved this book, which I have to admit surprised me a bit because I’m not a techno-thriller/sci-fi thriller kinda girl, at all and almost didn’t pick this one up… oh, would that have been a mistake, my friends, since I binged this book in a serious way!
It’s a few years in the future and as manual cars are being outlawed, only fully autonomous vehicles, Level 5 cars, are what the British government is requiring to make the roads safer due to human error. In these cars, you just get in, tell the car your destination, and it takes you wherever you need to go while you watch a movie, read, eat, or whatever you want. You are the Passenger. Sounds pretty great..until your car gets taken over by a voice telling you that someone else has complete control of your car and destination. There’s no escape.
That’s exactly what happens to eight people one morning when they are in their autonomous cars. They are told they’re going to die in two and a half hours—all except one who will be spared while the rest are going to die in a horrible crash. Of the eight people, there’s a pregnant woman, a husband and a wife, a famed actress, a refugee woman, a suicidal man, an army veteran, and a non-English speaking mother.
The Hacker, the terrorist who has taken over the cars, broadcasts the events live on social media and asks the audience, who immediately becomes enthralled by the people being held hostage, to vote on who lives and who dies. Then there’s the jury who determines who is at fault in self-driving accidents that the Hacker also takes over and charges with choosing who lives and dies―if they refuse, all of them die.
As the public tweets and casts their votes, the passengers must appeal to the public and jury about why they should be the one saved. Most of them seem normal, but some are hiding secrets that when they’re revealed change the public’s perception. Marrs has really excelled here in shining a light on the power and dangers of social media, as well as society’s injustices towards people of different races, gender, and sexual orientation. I was just as caught up as the characters in trying to decide who should live and die, so the book is just that gripping and immersive!
More than anything though, The Passengers is pure entertainment made all too real with the meticulous research Marrs did about driverless cars. The pacing was brilliant, and I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen. The ending really threw me; I thought it was clever and well-done! I was definitely impressed by my first Marrs book and highly recommend this one!
~A Traveling Sisters read: Thanks for the wonderful, thought-provoking discussion ladies; this was such a fun one to discuss! You can read their excellent review here!~
**Thank you, Berkley for the gifted copy. All opinions are my own.**