The Passengers by John Marrs

The passengers

 

The Passengers by John Marrs paints a scary picture of the future and I began to wonder whether this could actually happen one day as driverless cars become more advanced.

As I read it reminded me of those debates we had at school – about a hot air balloon which is losing height rapidly and will soon crash because it is overweight. The solution is to get rid of some of the passengers to enable the others to survive. Each passenger has to put forward a persuasive case as to why they should survive.

In The Passengers driverless cars have been developed to Level Five, with no steering wheels, pedals or a manual override option. A Hacker has taken over control of the cars, set them on a collision course, and tells each passenger that the destination they programmed into their GPS has been replaced with an alternative location. In approximately two hours time they are going to die. They are trapped inside unable to contact the outside world.

Meanwhile Libby Dixon has been selected for service on a Vehicle Inquest Jury, assessing liability for accidents involving driverless cars. Libby hates the way these cars are becoming the norm and she has reason to do so – but we only discover why much later on the book. So she is not comfortable with what she is forced to do and is determined to challenge decisions when she doesn’t agree with the other jurists’ verdict. The Hacker interrupts their proceedings and they are told that only one passenger can be saved. They have to talk to each passenger before deciding who is to be saved. In addition the whole thing is being broadcast and the public also has a vote. The passenger with the most votes will be spared when the cars collide.

This raises all sorts of issues as details of each of the passengers lives are made public – but are they all what or who they seem?  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.

The tension rises, as the passengers’ private lives are exposed and moral and ethical questions about race, gender, immigration, religion and age are all scrutinised. I was expecting a particular twist in the plot and it came – but not when I thought it would! There were plenty of twists and surprises to follow before the book came to an end.

The Passengers is a shocking book. I found it riveting, even if it is preposterous, and sinister with a frightening view of the future that may not be that ridiculous. It kept me glued to the page right to the end.

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 21081 KB
  • Print Length: 406 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Digital (1 April 2019)
  • Source: I bought it
  • My rating: 5*

4 thoughts on “The Passengers by John Marrs”

  1. That’s the thing about well-written speculative fiction. We go along for the ride (no pun intended!), and we consider what might be, even if the story gets either preposterous or at least ‘out there.’ It sounds as though the characters are really nicely developed here, Margaret, and I’m glad you found it absorbing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, I’m terrified by the thought of driverless cars too! I’m not at all sure I’m ready for this one, though it clearly had you gripped, Margaret!

    Like

  3. This book doesn’t come out for us here until late August. However…I do have an advance copy. I’m thinking I will read it soon. Isn’t this the same author that wrote THE ONE? I think I have that book on my Kindle. PASSENGERS sounds terrifying and curiously possible. Ha! Scary!

    Like

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