Monday, August 26, 2019

The Passengers by John Marrs

The Passengers: A Novel. John Marrs. Penguin Publishing Group.  August 2019. pb, 352 pp.; ISBN: 9781984806970.

Libby is part of a Vehicle Inquest Jury deciding who is to blame when driver-less vehicles in England are in accidents with driver-controlled vehicles or pedestrians.  The outcome angers her because the driver-controlled vehicles are always cleared.  Now Libby and we share a phenomenal nightmare.  Eight driver-controlled vehicles are hacked by an unknown enemy; each of the people in those locked vehicles are told they will die in two-and-a-half hours. 

Libby and her jury peers are told they must choose who must die and which single person be allowed to live.  This whole scenario is obviously pre-planned and set up as each person has many reasons to live but all have at least one horrendous part of background which would negate the innocence of his or her life.  The disclosure of each biography plus the revelation of dark secrets is equal in shock value to the participants, public social media audience and each reader.  One is married to a pedophile, one is married to a bigamist, one has a dead husband in the trunk of the car, one is an abused illegal immigrant, one is bent on suicide and more. 

The premise of the novel will eventually be explained albeit condemned.  This novel will force readers to think about the Artificial Intelligence (AI) behind driver-less vehicles and about the decision to grant justice or injustice on those who survive such collisions.  Jack, the MP running the Vehicle Inquest Jury, is motivated by personal greed and is very much part of decisions that are immoral and downright injustice.  His end in this plot is as frightening as the rest of the novel.

Catch up on your sleep before you begin this novel because you will be gripped by its hair-raising plot and unable to stop reading, even while the tension mounts over and over with each changing scene and challenge.  It’s important satire but also a warning that AI needs to be monitored, maintained and controlled because it’s not as objective and detached as it seems.  Science can be deleterious and damning if not examined and measured on how it affects individuals and the public within society. It has criminal possibilities as well as technological progress.  As in this novel, You Decide!

Mind-blowing plot, carefully crafted and a nail-biting, hair-raising story.  A truly thrilling read!

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