Title: The Passengers
Author: John Marrs
You’re riding in your self-driving car when suddenly the doors lock, the route changes and you have lost all control. Then, a mysterious voice tells you, “You are going to die”.
Just as self-driving cars become the trusted, safer norm, eight people find themselves in this terrifying situation, including a faded TV star, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man.
From cameras hidden in their cars, their panic is broadcast to millions of people around the world. But the public will show their true colors when they are asked, “Which of these people should we save?…And who should we kill first?”
This one was a weird one. Like the last sci-fi story I picked up, this one’s premise was intriguing. Especially since I hope to one day own a self-driving car.
The book follows several characters – some trapped in their vehicles, others trapped in the jury that decides their fates. Normally, with a cast this big, I’d have a couple of favorite characters, but I don’t think the writer wrote the story to facilitate that. It’s very clear from the start that we’re meant to pick the protagonist, Libby, as our favorite. At least, she was the most relatable and generally most human. The unlikable characters were absolutely awful, and those that didn’t evoke any emotion were just okay. They had their moments.
The plot of the book – though it follows such a large cast – is fairly simple and riveting at the same time. My favorite parts of the book were when we were getting to know the passengers and were given twists to their backstories. However, when it started to become a pattern, the twists started to feel boring, and lost their impact as each passenger went on. I will say though that the real twist – the reason behind the hacking of the cars in general – was still impactful and surprisingly relevant. Without giving anything away, I have to say that it’s definitely something I could see happening in the real world, should the tech ever get there.
That being said, once the main portion of the book was done – the end of the hacking event – the story dragged on into two unnecessary time jumps. Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but it did feel like the last ten chapters of the story went on forever. The dragging parts of the story and how two-dimensional most of the cast felt is what cost this one two stars.
Overall, I think this book was entertaining, and I only wish the cast was either smaller or more well-developed and that the pacing wasn’t all over the place.