Reviewed on 11th April 2019

The Passengers by John Marrs

Genre: Fiction / Psychological Thriller / Science Fiction / Thriller
The Passengers by John Marrs Synopsis

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 Passengers by John Marrs Review

A Terrifying Look into the Future with a Fabulous Shocking Twist

It’s no surprise to all who know me (and those who follow our Book Club Reviews) that here at The Glass House, we are big fans of the talented John Marrs. Each and every one of his books have captivated us, terrified us and made us question our morals, values and belief systems. Marrs has continuously succeeded in exceeding our expectations and despite constantly saying ‘he just can’t do better than this one’… he always does.

The Passengers is no exception.

We often hear ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ – but in this case, what if fiction became truth? Has Marrs managed to write a novel that truly reflects the possibilities of the future?

We live in a terrifying time. With politics falling apart on both sides of the pond, many are starting to question those powerful beings that preside over our future. With technology offering us everything from intelligent AI and driverless cars, we are slowly merging real life with the sci-fi movies of the past. So it does not surprise me that after the success of The One (a novel that explores the possibility of finding your soul mate using a DNA test) Marrs would choose to tackle driverless cars next.

This book is truly outstanding. It’s a book I read in one sitting, with my children and husband under strict instructions to ‘leave me alone’. I held my breath, gripped the edges of my kindle and tore at my hair. When I finally turned the last page – I had three sets of eyes staring at me wondering why I was looking so pale.

‘Eight intended victims. Who lives, who dies? You Decide.’ – The Passengers by John Marrs

Imagine if the world of Black Mirror collided painfully with the nastiness that is reality TV? That is the only way I can explain this fabulous book in one sentence. The idea that Eight ‘innocent’ victims can be trapped in driverless cars headed for collision and a ‘trial by public’ is the only way to decide which of the victims is allowed to walk free.

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It’s a terrifying concept – but one that really does not seem so far out of the realms of possibility. The nastiness of human nature, the cruelty of our current world views, our fascination and obsession with technology and the disturbing idea that as a nation we tend to ‘follow the crowd’ – John Marrs makes us question them all.

If you think about it, how far away are we ‘really’ from living in a world of driverless cars? How safe would we be from a new and dangerous form of terrorism or murder? Can technology ever be truly ‘hack proof?’ If the very worst happened, could you stand by and watch innocent victims being pitted against each other? Not quite as fantastical as The Hunger Games, but certainly just as terrifying as a concept.

As always, it’s hard to review Marrs’ books without giving too many spoilers, and this is one book I absolutely do not want to spoil.

Yet again Marrs has created a world we can see, feel, taste and touch. The characters are well rounded and intricately drawn. With moral dilemmas thrown up in each and every chapter, you will find yourself questioning everything you believe.

Although not a criticism, I did feel the book could have ended sooner. In my opinion, there were a good 4 endings in this book. Four instances when Marrs could have wrapped up and left the reader wondering – instead, he carries on right to the end. Which, in my opinion, makes it even more terrifying. Because it is so easy to see how this could happen in our world in the not too distant future. Instead of leaving the reader wondering… he has so clearly laid it all on the table and shown us exactly how it could end, who could be involved and just how deeply those we least expect can be involved. I will stop there for fear of saying too much.. but trust me, if you have ever looked at the driverless cars and wondered just what the future could look like – THIS  – this is what could happen.

However, on the flip side, and for those who are not quite as cynically minded as me, this is the most fabulous example of a thriller you can find on the shelves today. A thriller that not only chills you to the bone but leaves you thinking ‘what if this is actually possible…’

Truly remarkable John Marrs. Another corker of a book – one I think might be a little harder than the others to beat.

(Many thanks to Ebury and Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting us to take part in this blog tour.)

Published by: Ebury
ISBN: 978-178503-888-4

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