Thursday, August 29, 2019
The Passengers by John Marrs
The Passengers by John Marrs is set in the near future. There are five defined levels of driverless cars, from Level 0, in which the driver performs all tasks, to Level 5. Soon, all cars will be Level 5, totally autonomous with no manual override and no steering wheel. As the day begins, the author introduces readers to 8 characters who are boarding fully-autonomous cars. Some of the characters are uncomfortable with the lack of manual override; some are fine with it or even appreciate the freedom to read or do other tasks instead of paying attention to the road. The setting is England.
In Birmingham, there is a court in which the responsibility for autonomous automobile accidents is decided and Libby Dixon has jury duty. Libby was the witness to a horrific accident and knows how such cases can turn out. Now, Libby will have to share her opinion about similar cases between autonomous cars and pedestrians or other vehicles that are not autonomous. She has her suspicions that not everything is on the up-and-up in this court.
Back to the 8 passengers. After all the passengers have been on the road for a while, a hacker takes over their cars, one by one, and claims that he will crash them into each other in about 2 1/2 hours. Soon, the passengers will all be dead. But, he's taken over the airwaves. Now, the people in the autonomous accident court and viewers across England have no choice but to choose one person to live. The hacker provides proof that there is no way to rescue the occupants of the autonomous vehicles.
What's the hacker's objective? Will anyone survive?
Recommended - I had some minor issues with this book, the main one being that it was just a little too far-fetched for me. Some of the victims were chosen at random, according to the hacker. But, he knew intimate details about the lives of most of them and chose to only release partial information, just enough to make them all look guilty of something. In the end, I understood the point the hacker was trying to make. It's really a book about how a small percentage of people controls the vast majority of what happens to the population, how limiting information available can provide a skewed viewpoint, and how difficult it is to get all that across to the populace. I think that's the theme, anyway. I don't want to give away what's being manipulated and why he's trying to draw attention to it because that would ruin the story, but I will say that I found the book a little awkwardly written yet difficult to put down. And, the one thing I loved best about it was that the author managed to keep surprising me. I have a tendency to guess what's going to happen in a suspense, so I always appreciate an author who can surprise me.
I received a copy of The Passengers from Berkley Books in exchange for an unbiased review. My thanks to Berkley! I've already picked out the person I'm going to pass this book onto and I can't wait to hear his thoughts.
While I was in the midst of reading The Passengers, a friend wrote a comment to me on Goodreads to tell me John Marrs is one of her favorite authors. I love it when that happens!
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