Source: Review copy, Netgalley
Publication: Del Rey in e-book on 1st April 2019 and in paperback on 30th May 2019
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?
John Marrs has really hit a chord with this book. As the world slowly wakes up to all that technology can offer and is even slower to open its eyes to the downside of that technology, Marrs compels his readers to stare technology in the face in a game of chicken. And we do not win.
In the not at all distant future, driverless cars are the acceptable norm. There are levels of driverless car, but of course everyone wants the latest model; the one you can sit in and watch TV while you are transported, or put your make up on, or even if you are so minded, have a glass of wine or take a business meeting.
Should a driverless car ever be involved in an accident, a panel will be convened to determine fault.
Then one day, in a shocking occurrence that no-one ever believed possible, eight of the ‘unhackable’ cars are taken over by ‘The Hacker’. Each passenger is locked into their vehicle and each is told that in two and a half hours they will be dead.
All of this happens while the panel is convened; indeed, it seems it is directed at them. For ‘The Hacker’ tells them that it is possible to save one passenger – and their job is to decide which one. To help them, the entire proceedings are broadcast over social media so that the public, too, can voice an opinion.
Marrs plays brilliantly with a number of issues here. From the rush to judgement of social media to the way in which social media can help blur reality over perception, Marrs plays very well with the ugly side of mob mentality. In a series of shocking moments, Marrs very quickly brings home the judgemental side of a social media mob.
The Passengers works so well because it is built on plausibility. With some explosive moments and more than a few outstanding twists, Marrs has touched several raw nerves here in order to bring home an outstanding and quite terrifying thriller which deserves huge recognition.
Verdict: The Passengers is an innovative, intense, fast-paced thriller of a ride. Buckle up and get started.
John Marrs is the author of #1 Best Sellers The One, The Good Samaritan, When You Disappeared, Welcome to Wherever You Are and Her Last Move. The One has been translated into 20 different languages and is to be turned into a a ten-part Netflix series in 2019.
After working as a journalist for 25-years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time writer.