Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Passengers by John Marrs

Happy Book Birthday to John Marrs whose latest, The Passengers, released today.

Eight people have been taken hostage. Their fates are in the hands of a cruel hacker out to prove a point and intent on using the court of public appeal, via social media, as help. The eight people are as different as can be. One is an aging actress, one is a pregnant mother-to-be, one is a cop while another is actually her husband, one is an immigrant housewife in the wrong place at the wrong time, one is an asylum seeker, one is a single man, and one is a veteran. The one thing they all have in common is that they are all Passengers.

Their cars, powered by AI trusted to get them safely from one place to another, have been hijacked. The hacker has told them all that they will likely be dead in two hours. And the whole world is watching.

In the near future, autonomous cars are mandatory. Roads are safer, insurance is cheaper, and the government offers incentives for people in need of an upgrade.

But things aren’t as rosy as they appear in this future. In Marrs’s imagined future, these cars are supposed to be impossible to hack. But someone has figured out how to do it and his end goal is...well, that's part of the plot.

In addition to the perspectives of some of the Passengers, the novel also features Libby Dixon, a civilian member on a jury tasked with examining cases where people have been killed in car accidents. But, of course, the job is a little different now. Now it's determining whether the AI is responsible or not. And the hacker has his eye on them. In fact, it seems that the issue the hacker may be trying to bring to light is the fact that the cars aren’t as safe as the government would have us believe. And yet, as the book continues, it becomes clear there’s something deeper going on. Each of the characters hints at something hiding in their pasts. And it seems maybe the hacker's purpose is much darker than simply bringing to light the government's part in reliance on an untrustworthy technology.

Obviously it's darker than that. He's willing to kill people!

If you’re a fan of Black Mirror, this is a must read. The over reliance on technology, greedy agendas, shady government participation, it's all on point for anyone who has a healthy skepticism about these things. Which makes it both a dark and fun read!


Jan M. Flynn said...

I was thinking "Black Mirror" by the first paragraph of your review! I'm a huge fan of that show, so even though I don't identify as a reader of thrillers, perhaps it's time to step out of my comfort zone (tee hee).

Becky LeJeune said...

Yes, you should definitely give it a shot, Jan! It reminded me of the episode with the bees!