The Passengers by John Marrs

One of the best ‘puppet-master’ thrillers I’ve ever read.

The Passengers is an explosive look at innovation, social media, and autonomous vehicles. A near-future Britain has mandated Level 5, fully automated cars… and one morning a terrorist named The Hacker takes over the controls of eight vehicles. The inside of these cars are then broadcast onto every TV station and website around the world to witness the The Passengers’ reactions to The Hacker’s demands. At the same time, a little known jury is meeting that decides fault in accidents concerning AI and passengers. The Hacker opens a video stream to their meeting and makes them the judges to who will survive the day.

Fully autonomous vehicles are promoted by the government to prevent accidents, traffic, and save money, but they have also put many industries out of work. The reader is left guessing as to the motivations of The Hacker and his well orchestrated but evil plan.

Told through the points of views of the victims and a selected jury member, Marrs keeps the action taut with short chapters that hop back and forth between characters. But that isn’t to say that the characterization is shallow by any means… it becomes clear all too soon that the public will find out how and why these eight were chosen.

The Passengers belongs to a very select group of books on PaulsPicks: a one-day read. I took this book on vacation with me and gobbled it up in one long afternoon and into the evening. I just couldn’t stop! And no spoilers, but I want to say that the conclusion of this one goes well beyond where many thrillers end. You can tell that Marrs did a great deal of intricate research to try to get things right in all aspects of this book. The tech just works perfectly with the plot…

The characters all possess a little bit of grey shading that brings sympathy, but also makes you question their overall moral compasses. Their are indeed bad guys, but there are so many in between that flip your loyalties all over the place.

A masterful piece of modern storytelling! Pick this one up for a wild and scary ride. Door locks click shut and you will be trapped!

5 out of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley, Berkeley Publishing, and the author for an advanced copy for review.

12 thoughts on “The Passengers by John Marrs

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    1. While on vacation, my parents took my daughter to the store (it takes all day to get there and back), so I had some good reading time. I read The Passengers in one day. It’s pretty riveting.

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