Monday, 22 July 2019

REVIEW - THE PASSENGER BY JOHN MARRS

Title: The Passengers
Author: John Marrs
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller, Mystery
Publisher: Ebury Digital
Release Date: 1st April 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
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?


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
As I had read and loved The One by John Marr previously and this book was on offer for just 99p so I thought I would give it a go. Initially I was really struggling with this one, it seems the last couple of lines is repeated on the next page every now and then, surely this is not meant to be like this, but would such a thing be missed in the editing/printing procedure. (I have been assured by the author who I contacted via Instagram that it was some sort of download issue) The One is actually mentioned on more than one occasion within the plot of this book too. So, The Passenger is set around the same futuristic era that The One is also set in. There are various covers for this book but my favourite is the one I have chosen to go with my review. (pictured above).
I think the byline on the book cover “Eight intended victims, Who lives, Who dies? You decide.” I also like the dashboard feel to the cover with the skull warning light illuminated. The genres I have seen listed for this book are Sci-Fi, Thriller which fit well though after reading the book I would add futuristic and dystopian to the list.

The book has two groups of major characters, jurors and passengers. Those that have been called for a modern, futuristic version of jury service all in a locked room. They are there to give judgement on accidents that have occurred as a result of the new driverless cars. These new cars are fantastic! You don’t need a drivers licence. You get into your vehicle, put in your destination in something like our present sat navs and sit back. The car does all the work. You are just a passenger, you are free to take telephone calls, do your emails, or paperwork on the way to work or just enjoy the scenery as you go past. This type of car has lots of special additions to what a normal car would have such as accident prevention software. However, what happens when there is an accident who is at fault, the car or the passenger? This is what the jurors have been called together to decide. The evidence is presented in a way that they are steered towards not blaming the cars. Of course, there are lots more details within the book about the cars. This book had me seriously thinking of what the future in cars is going to be in reality. I mean most people have sat navs, parking assist things in their cars and there is so much more to compare to this book such as the car that parks itself. There are different levels of driverless cars from ones that only park for you perhaps, that you can still override to the level that you have no control of at all. You can also hire these driverless cars too, kind of like using them as a taxi. The car arrives, you input your destination and off it goes. The dashboard in these cars allows you to do anything from watch TV, to doing your emails, checking social media or even reading. Passengers as young as fourteen can be a passenger alone in a fully automated driverless car! The government are certainly encouraging people to change to this type of vehicle, such as tax breaks, free charging and cheaper insurance!

The other group of eight main characters are the ones that are basically trapped in their cars and at the mercy of a very clever group of people who have chosen them to make a point. It soon becomes apparent that the man talking to the jurors is in charge and they will listen to him and do as he tells them to. The passengers are introduced in the book via their own chapters. You could say there is a wide range of passengers to represent different age groups, sexuality and races. The hacker lets the passengers introduce themselves and he tells them that they are all set on a collision course and will die in two hours thirty minutes. The hacker also continues this countdown throughout the book. As each passenger realises they are not heading to the destination they inputted into the cars system, their reactions vary from pressing any and every button they can find, to screaming and crying. In turn all the vehicles windows turn a kind of opaque so no one can see in to the vehicles and their panicking passengers. Passenger One is Claire Arden, who is pregnant with a baby boy. I thought the fact the baby had a nickname and reason behind the baby’s nickname “Tate” made you kind of count the baby boy as a “passenger” within his own right. Passenger Two is Jude Harrison who turns out to be the guy that Libby (one of the jurors) has been looking for since meeting him in a bar when out with friends one evening. Jude is a single, good looking male who had purchased a driverless car at the beginning of the governments hyped “Road Revolution” Passenger Three is a 78year old actress called Sophia Bradbury who is on her way to one of the many charity events and is in the process of trying to revive her flagging career….
Each passenger is given the opportunity to introduce themselves, then the hacker reveals a dark secret about them to the public. It is the jurors and the public watching everything as it happens via the internet who will vote and decide who lives and who dies! Each Juror is given the chance to champion one of the passengers and talk to them. Then in turn try to influence public opinion on them. Things may seem very black and white but it turns out they really aren’t.

My favourite character was Libby who had her own views on driverless cars coloured by the accident she saw happen quite recently. I also adored Claire Arden, her husband Ben and their unborn baby Tate. Claire begs for her unborn child and seems to have both the jurors and the publics support. That is until her dark secret has been revealed, which leaves the question of should her unborn child suffer because of his parent’s poor choices. The character I loved to hate was Jack who came across uncaring, bullish and in favour of the driverless vehicles no matter what the risk to the public was. He only reveals the information he wants to.   

This really is a rollercoaster type of read. Being totally honest, I got really irritated with the whole download issue but the book is so good and such compulsive reading that I had to continue with it. I felt I had to know who lived and who died and why. I also wanted to find out the identity of the hacker and the group behind him and what their agenda was.


I would recommend reading this book and also The One by John Marrs too. I will also still be checking out other books by this author. You can really easily imagine this scenario happening not too far in our future.

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