The Passengers by John Marrs
The Passengers by John Marrs

The Passengers by John Marrs, New York : Berkley, 2019.

In a future that seems not impossible in the next twenty to thirty years, driver-less cars have become the norm in the U.K.  Pushed through and supported by the government, roads and infrastructure have been renovated to support and make electric, driver-less cars the cost-effective option for citizens. But what happens when a driver-less car is involved in an accident?  Who’s at fault? 

Libby is finding that out.  Never a supporter of the driver-less car movement after being a witness to a terrible accident during their initial inception, Libby is forced into jury duty for the committee organized to decide who is at fault during a Level 5 (driver-less) car accident anyways.  Forced to spend a week locked away and judging one incident after another, she is finding herself having trouble standing her own under the peer-pressure of the rest of the panel, even though she knows they’re wrong.

When proceedings are interrupted by late breaking news, no one expected the following disaster.  Eight unhackable Level 5 vehicles have been hacked and the lives of the passengers have been threatened and broadcast on every social media platform available.  Libby and the rest of the panel now find themselves at the center of a hostage situation where the Hacker is forcing them to choose who lives and dies and airing everyone’s secrets on live television.  Honesty is the only acceptable answer and the repercussions mean someone’s life.

What drew me to this story was the idea of driver-less cars and how they can be hacked for personal gain.  What I found myself staying for was the conspiracy and ultimate moral of this story.  John Marrs does an amazing job of creating characters that draw you in and a crisis situation that anyone could relate too.  An excellent story!

This was my first foray into novels by John Marrs, but considering how good this one is, I will definitely give other books a try.  His Good Samaritan is one I’ve heard of but not picked up so that may be my next of his to try.  

Readers who like John Marrs and are interested in similar authors would probably get a kick out of Harlan Coben, Linwood Barclay, and possibly Alice Feeney. 

Susana Goldman is the Library Director of the Alamance County Public Library.  She can be reached at (336) 513-4753 or sgoldman@alamancelibraries.org.