Eight driverless cars have been set on a high-speed collision course, and all those inside will be killed. One passenger can be saved, but only one. Which of the eight passengers is most worthy of living? Which seven will you condemn to die? Do you rank by age? By gender? Race? Religion? Occupation? Family status?
What if you were told that some of those passengers were not as they seem? What would you do then? Hurry up, the clock is ticking …
When I selected The Passengers to read, I had only a very vague idea of the story and no experience with the author at all, so no real expectations. It’s just as well, because no matter what the expectations might have been, they would have been absolutely blown away. This is a fantastic story, brilliantly written.
Our protagonist is one of the five jurors given the unenviable task of condemning seven of the eight passengers to death, who has history with one of the people in the cars. Making the decision more difficult is the sixth vote, awarded by the hacker to the general public via social media (not the most balanced of arenas at the best of times), and the unhappy coincidence that one of the passengers is known to a juror.
Marrs doles out information in measured amounts, resulting in a tense read with a true sense of time running out. Not wanting to lose any of the momentum I ended up reading the book in one go and I think that’s probably the way to go, if at all possible, as you need to properly keep track of a lot of characters and their histories.
There are so many twists and turns along the way that I couldn’t trust my opinion of any of the characters, and I was kept guessing right up to the end. The steady drip-drip revelation of secrets and lies, and the skilful machinations of the Hacker reveal just how scarily easy it can be to steer people to make the choice you want them to, and how little you can sometimes trust your own judgement.
On finishing The Passengers, I immediately looked for other books by this author, and it seems that the soulmate-matching service referenced in this book might refer to another of his novels, The One. Having not read that (yet), I don’t know if it would have added anything, but I’ve downloaded it to give it a try.
Publication date: 22nd June 2021