Today it is my great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for The Passengers, the brand new thriller from author John Marrs. A big thank you to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me to join the tour and to publisher Ebury for providing the advance copy for review. Here is what the book is all about:
About the Book
Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.
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?
Perhaps one of the most disturbing things about John Marrs’ new thriller, The Passengers, is how undeniably plausible the whole situation is. Speaking as someone whose car (should I ever figure out how to actually use it properly) has the ability to park itself – both parallel and into an empty parking space I might add – turns its own main beam on and off and steers me back into my lane should I drift too close to either white line, I know that the whole ‘my car is driving me’ aspect of motoring really isn’t too far away. Google have been trialling autonomous vehicles for some time. Electric vehicles are becoming more prevalent and the there is a big push to find more economical and instant ways to charge these cars as we drive … How we are from actualisation … well, that’s another matter, but ultimately only one of time.
In The Passengers, John Marrs takes the possible and kicks it up a notch. In a society in the not so distant future, where driverless cars are mandated, eight different people set out on seemingly normal journeys. But they don’t stay so normal for long, their automatic navigation and controls taken over by a malicious hacker, hell bent on creating a tense and ultimately deadly hostage situation designed to make the Government watch. But have the passengers been chosen at random or were they chosen with a purpose in mind? And who decides who should die and who gets to live?
As readers we are one hundred percent voyeurs, watching the action unfold in real time, just as the wider public do. This styling really drew me into the action, and travelling with each passenger in turn, learning more about them and experiencing their fear as they begin to understand what is happening to them, really gets your adrenalin pumping. John Marrs has created a real sense of urgency and tension across the whole book, injecting moments of shock that will have you staring at the pages in disbelief. And this really is the ultimate ticking clock kind of novel, the race against time to prevent a tragedy on a mass scale.
The book taps into many aspects of modern living, especially the idea of the ‘trial by social-media’. The wider public are asked to vote on who lives and who dies, casting a deciding vote alongside an assembled jury who, up until the point of the hijacking, were convened to decide the culpability in a number of road traffic collisions. The whole kind of mob mentality of social media, how fickle people are in their support of one or the other of the potential victims, and how quick they are to judge on only a small percentage of actual facts is sadly something that is all too common in modern life. It is played to perfection in this book – snap decisions being made that cost lives, the sad and heart breaking truth being revealed only when it is too late. It certainly makes you think. How quick are we to judge others when we do not know the full truth of a situation?
The action quickly escalates, speeding readers to a highly tense conclusion, although one perhaps not quite as dramatic as you might expect. Still shocking mind. Everyone in this book seems to be nursing a secret, that much is clear, and yet you still can’t believe all that you see or hear. After all, do you take the word of a potential liar or a terrorist? A wife and mother, or a failed asylum seeker? And then the last chapter of the book … Very clever. Very, very clever. Loved it. Left me with a big smile on my face anyway.
Playing upon the notions of prejudgment, racism, the bitter aftertaste of a post Brexit society, and the way in which technology is starting to govern all aspects of our lives, not only is this a tense and absorbing action thriller, it’s a thought provoking one too. With a nod to Mr Marrs’ best selling The One, which fans will certainly smile about, it will have you asking some very important questions. How far is too far when it comes to technological advancement? And when and if technology starts to govern and control all of our actions, who will be responsible for governing that technology? It is, after all, only as good as the hand that programmes and controls it, and if that hand should be corrupt …
About the Author
John Marrs is a freelance journalist based in London, England, who has spent the last 20 years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines. He has written for publications including The Guardian’s Guide and Guardian Online; OK! Magazine; Total Film; Empire; Q; GT; The Independent; Star; Reveal; Company; Daily Star and News of the World’s Sunday Magazine.
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