A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Passengers by John Marrs- Feature and Review


You’re riding in your self-driving car when suddenly the doors lock, the route changes and you have lost all control. Then, a mysterious voice tells you, “You are going to die”.

Just as self-driving cars become the trusted, safer norm, eight people find themselves in this terrifying situation, including a faded TV star, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man.

From cameras hidden in their cars, their panic is broadcast to millions of people around the world. But the public will show their true colors when they are asked, "Which of these people should we save?...And who should we kill first?"



The Passengers by John Marrs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Passengers by John Marrs is a 2019 Berkley Books publication.

An unrelenting techno-thriller!!

Set in the not so distant future, Britain has made driverless cars mandatory. Not only that there are no longer manual overrides, placing the passenger at the total mercy of technology. When there is an accident a jury is called in to judge who was at fault. Let’s just say they had better not rule against the car.

Despite the claim the autonomous car is the safest choice for all concerned, one morning a hacker takes control of eight cars holding passengers from all walks of life. Each person is informed their destination has been changed and within a few hours they will be dead.

Within moments of the takeover social media explodes with the news. The hackers take full advantage of their moment in the spotlight by turning the situation into a reality TV like contest, asking the public to vote for who will live or die.

Meanwhile, a panel of jurors is gathered to determine who to blame for the situation they are in and are also tasked with deciding the fate of the eight passengers. Only one of the jurors seems to have a real conscience, but can she single handedly, and without prejudice, uncover the truth?

Marrs taps into our darkest fears regarding technology and AI by imagining some of the many ways it could backfire on us. But to make the scenario mean something, we must feel some empathy for the characters caught in the hacker’s clever trap. Some of them are more sympathetic than others, but they all carry some sort of explosive secret that could change the opinion of the voting audience.

In many ways Marrs nails the desensitized, judgmental attitudes of social media users and the numb reality show mentality that is already the norm. The twists are plentiful and always a huge surprise as the reader is seldom able to fully digest one event or revelation before another takes place. The pacing is frenetic, but it complements the story and keeps readers turning pages at lightning speed.

The story is dark, but sometimes it has a satirical tone which also suggests the book isn’t meant to sound alarmist… just a bit cautionary.

The execution is a little rocky, as is the structuring, but I’m thinking that may have been by design, since it enhances the dark humor and the real-time layout of the story.

Overall, I’m not sure how well the book will hold up over time, but for the here and now, this is a highly imaginative, addictive thrill ride that kept me thoroughly entertained and on the edge of my seat from start to finish.





John Marrs is the author of #1 Best Sellers The One, The Good Samaritan, When You Disappeared, Welcome to Wherever You Are and Her Last Move. The One has been translated into 23 different languages and is to be turned into a a ten-part Netflix series in 2019.
After working as a journalist for 25-years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time writer. His sixth book, The Passengers, is set for release in August 2019.
Follow him on Twitter @johnmarrs1 Facebook: @johnmarrsauthor Instagram: @johnmarrs.author website: johnmarrsauthor.co.uk

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