7:00 pm EDT, August 30, 2019

‘The Passengers’ book review: A thrilling ride with a message

The Passengers by John Marrs will have you as far on the edge of your seat as the book’s subjects.

We’re living in an age where technology is growing and changing faster than the average person can really understand it. In The Passengers explores what might happen if that technology got out of our control. Or rather, was under the control of somebody else.

The story takes place in near-future London, where self driving cars have become ubiquitous, and are well on their way to being required by law. Road accidents are at an all time low, social media usage is at an all time high, and most people are happy to leave their commute in the allegedly capable “hands” of AI.

Libby, however, is not one of those people. After seeing first hand how dangerous autonomous cars can be, she’s dedicated a huge chunk of her recent years to protesting the autonomous vehicle mandate. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop her from being called in as a guest juror on the super secretive council that reviews accidents to decide who was at fault: an autonomous car or the people around it.

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She expects a turbulent jury duty, but she never could have predicted that a hacker would take control of eight autonomous cars that morning and hold their passengers hostage, forcing the council and the world to make impossible decisions to save them.

The Passengers by John Marrs was a thrill, to say the least. The story kept me flying from chapter to chapter, desperate to know what was coming next. Even though most of the book took place within the span of 2.5 hours, it still felt like things were moving along at a breakneck speed.

The main reason The Passengers was so thrilling to read was because of the characters in the story. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this strongly about characters in a stand alone novel.

Within just the first few chapters I found myself caring deeply for many of the characters, and loathing others. By placing the cast in the middle of such a dire situation and illustrating an exquisitely diverse and complex array of characters, Marrs has populated this world with a group of people who you can’t help but root for and against.

However, just when you think you know whose side you’re on, Marrs throws in one of the many huge twists in The Passengers.

Early on, The Passengers reveals itself as much more than a thriller. Using the members of the council, the hacker’s demands, and the passengers, themselves, he sheds a light on some of society’s most relevant problems.

The book explores the increased reliance and technology and the different ways in which that can be exploited, of course, but it also takes a hard look at racism, sexism, ageism, terrorism, xenophobia, mental illness, infidelity, abuse of power, and pretty much every kind of bias you can think of.

The story of The Passengers flows through these issues in a very natural way, but definitely not in a subtle way. Not only will you watch as the book’s characters are confronted with their inherent biases, but you’ll be thrown into the ring alongside them.

The beauty of The Passengers is that it forces the reader to make decisions base don the hackers demands with the same information that’s presented to those in the story. It forces you to examine your own beliefs and values and how they change as the story unfolds. The Passengers paints an intriguing picture of the importance of context and understanding when making decisions.

Pick up The Passengers for the thrilling premise, stay for the amazing cast of characters that John Marrs has created, and return for the valuable lessons about the importance of seeing the big picture.

You can get your own copy of The Passengers by John Marrs now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local book store. You can also add the book to your Goodreads shelf!

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