The Passengers by John Marrs #review

The Passengers - John Marrs
Title: The Passengers
Author: John Marrs
Publisher: Ebury

[Synopsis]

Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife – and parents of two – who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?

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[My Review]

The Passengers is another brilliant book from John Marrs, taking place in the same world as ‘The One’ but later, as autonomous vehicles become compulsary in England. It completely grabbed me right from the beginning, when we see various passengers have their cars taken over and sent to a central location with the promise of colliding. What follows is a tense, addictive story of morality and a definite warning against the increasingly AI-driven interfaces of many of our interactions, technology and even ways of thinking.

I loved reading about the effects having autonomous cars – and complulsary autonomous cars at that – would have on society, which made this novel even more interesting. I could actually imagine this being a reality, and the things described in the book becoming a reality (though I can’t help but hope that the general public would have a bit more sense to them when making important decisions… yes I just heard that; I think in light of recent decisions we know that unfortunately that’s not necessarily true!). I don’t want to give too much way but there are many small and big decisions made that made me question, as the reader, what path I would pick if in Libby’s shoes, or those of any of the panel deciding the passengers’ fates.

I really did find it hard to put The Passengers down, as it’s written in a way that makes you want to read ‘just one more page’, then another, then another… it’s also a really easy novel to get through as the sentences flow so well and the characters are interesting and defined enough to stand apart, without getting confused between them. I personally really liked the ending; at one point I thought it was going to go a certain way which I didn’t really feel would have done the story justice but I think it ended really well. John Marrs has managed to hit on the perfect combination of drama, action and suspense whilst also writing about a subject matter that it worryingly convincing; we know self-driving cars are no longer a thing of science fiction or even necessarily that far into the future, so the subject matter here feels even more pertinent, and therefore even more worrying. That’s part of what makes this book so scary, but also so very addictive!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Ebury for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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