The Passengers by John Marrs | Blog Tour Review |#ThePassengers

Published by Ebury
Ebook (1 April) | Paperback (30 May 2019)
406 pages
Source: Review copy from publisher

About the Book

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?

The new gripping page-turning thriller for fans of BLACK MIRROR from the bestselling author of HER LAST MOVE and THE ONE – soon to be a major Netflix series.

My Thoughts

My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the blog tour invitation and to the publisher for the paperback review copy.

This book was so gripping; totally plausible (- because we all know how incompetent any Government are at anything to do with transport!!) and absolutely terrifying all at the same time.  I am extremely uncomfortable with the idea of autonomous vehicles anyway and this story hasn’t reassured me in any way.

The Passengers is set in the future, where all cars are driverless. Older models have manual override but the latest, Level 5, are completely autonomous and used with an app. You just programme in where you want to go and the car takes you. It works out the best route, it will even collect you at a given time – taxis even operate this way.  You can drink, watch a film – it sounds great doesn’t it?  The Government has assured the public that the AI security levels mean that hacking is impossible, that there will be fewer accidents and that the whole concept is completely safe!

Our passengers are a varied bunch and include a pregnant woman, an abused wife and an ageing TV star. They all have a different backstory or reason for being in the car – some might be purely mundane whereas others’ have a more complicated and sordid story to tell. However, things soon get interesting because the Hacker has some surprises in store. 

One the main characters is Libby. Libby is a young mental health nurse totally opposed to these cars for reasons which are gradually revealed.  She is called to serve as a juror on an inquest into accidents involving driverless cars.  These inquests are held in secret and are not as wholly independent as we would hope, however one random member of the public is always in attendance and in this instance it’s Libby’s turn.  She tries to get her points across but keeps being shouted down by the forceful (and obnoxious) MP in charge. Libby was a standout character for me, I admired her for the way she tried to stand up for her own beliefs even when under pressure.

At a given time, the hacker starts live streaming the passengers’ reactions whilst trapped helplessly in their cars and also has live access to the jurors whose building he has hacked into.  From then on, the fate of every single passenger is up to the jurors and also up for the public vote – mob mentality is very much the focus here and it was quite frightening. No detail is spared for public consumption, however horrifying – cameras are everywhere. 

I really enjoyed this and flew through it.  The concept is original and entertaining and makes reference to the idea that technology is/could be so advanced that our every move could be tracked, and that the authorities would have access to every single detail about each and every person.  In this futuristic story, the value of one life was weighed against another. It makes you think about how we judge people without knowing the full facts and how easy it is to manipulate people into thinking a certain way.

With plenty of brilliant twists and surprises throughout, The Passengers is a thrilling and engrossing read.  Some of the characters I felt great empathy for and others I could happily have driven the car to the collision point myself they were so awful.   However, one thing is certain. I am never getting into a driverless car.  Ever.

The Passengers is currently available to download from Amazon UK for just 99p

About the Author

John Marrs is a former journalist from Northamptonshire, England, who spent 25 years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines.

He wrote for publications including The Guardian’s Guide and Guardian Online; OK! Magazine; Total Film; Empire; Q; GT; The Independent; Star; Reveal; Company; Daily Star and News of the World’s Sunday Magazine.

He recently gave up his job to write novels full time. His first car at the age of seventeen was a three-door, Ford Escort with a Batman sticker in the rear windscreen. He thought the sticker was cool at the time.

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