The Passengers by John Marrs

The Passengers
John Marrs


When eight self-driving cars suddenly change course, counter to their pre-programmed destinations, their passengers don’t know what to think. Soon, they are told that “it is highly likely” they will be dead in two and a half hours: their cars are set to meet in a fiery crash.

What to do? They have no control. No steering wheels, no brakes. They can’t open the windows or doors and their Internet has been hacked. Cell service is out and their only communication is with the hacker.

Meanwhile, Claire Arden has been called for jury duty, of sorts. She’s the only civilian member of the Vehicle Inquest Jury, formed to decide who’s at fault in a fatal crash involving driverless cars. “Either man or machine is to blame, and you will decide,” she is told. As the debate unfolds, the jury is suddenly alerted to the situation on the roads, which has gone wild, first on social media and quickly picked up by all news organizations. Camera feeds from each car reveal the hostages inside, and their images are plastered for the world to see, and comment on, of course. And it isn’t long until the jury is charged with a new task, an impossible decision.

Set in London, sometime in the near future, citizens are living in the time of a Road Revolution, in which there will be a ban on non-autonomous vehicles within ten years. But there is something more sinister going on, slowly revealed as the story develops.

In addition to his commentary on social media and the overreaching role of government (for this is a dystopian story), Marrs covers many themes, including religion, racism, mental health, sexuality, marriage and parenthood.

Although far-fetched and a little preachy, I enjoyed the original and modern premise of The Passengers. Marrs writes a fast-paced story, matching the frantic efforts to avert disaster. There are many shocks and several interesting sub-plots, including a possible romance, which kept me interested in the story’s outcome. Characters are slightly one-dimensional and stereotypical, however, and Marrs seems to include one from every category. The finish is wild and implausible, but maybe that’s part of the genre. All-in-all, I enjoyed reading The Passengers, which is an easy read and escape when the rest of your life is busy.

While I thought it was a pretty good read, lots of book bloggers loved The Passengers, so be sure to also check out these selected reviews.

The BiblioSanctum
Book Reviews | Jack’s Bedtime Reading
Dee’s Rad Reads and Reviews
Diary of a Book Fiend
Stephen Writes

Have you read The Passengers? Leave a comment and tell me what you thought.

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12 thoughts on “The Passengers by John Marrs

    1. I know. Since I’m a bit of a control freak, I don’t think I’d ever want a self-driving car. I was always a little uncomfortable with the subway drivers in Washington, who didn’t steer the cars, but only accelerated and braked. That was so many years ago too. I wonder if they have operators in the cars now? Thanks for the visit Jill. 🙂 🚗🚓🚕🛺🚙

  1. Barbara, a terrific and intense review! It sounds like the film ‘Speed’ and I can just imagine Sandra Bullock in a movie version of the book. I think wild and implausible is the way these stories tend to be – it’s a matter of suspending reality and going with it. I’m tempted to have a peek … but there are so many books calling out to me!

    1. Hi Annika, that’s so interesting because I was just talking to my work friends about The Passengers and we went straight to Speed and Sandra Bullock! I loved that movie, cheesy as it was. And I liked The Passengers for the same reason. I think you’re right, it is part of the genre. Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂

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