The Passengers by John Marrs ★★★★★ #BookReview #BookBlog

44062011Primary Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller
Published: 27 Aug 2019 by Berkley Publishing Group
Page count: 352
My Format: eARC from NetGalley
Cover: Haunting
Pacing: Great
Ending: Great
Would I recommend it: Absolutely!
Commission Link: Buy The Passengers

My rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis from Goodreads
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?”

My Thoughts
What a ride!! Literally! This book was so much more than a thriller… it will make you think! Here are my pros and cons for The Passengers:


  1. I was immediately drawn in by the narrative. You initially meet all of the “passengers” before they get into the ill-fated self-driving cars. There is a large cast of characters in this story and I felt like I knew each of them well from the very onset.
  2. After being drawn in, I never once lost interest. The book just builds and builds and the tension grows and the plot gets much more profound than I initially anticipated. It was absolutely unputdownable!
  3. The person controlling the cars, the “Hacker”, has specifically given a jury of people along with the general public (via social media) the responsibility to select which of the hijacked passengers will live or die. Without giving too much away, suffice it to say information is provided about each passenger, but no one really knows if the information is the truth or if the whole story was provided. Regardless, a decision has to be made on who to save and who to kill and there are consequences if a decision is not made. This set up was intriguing, uncomfortable, distressing, and disturbing. The whole situation was like looking at a car wreck (no pun intended)… you don’t want to look, but for some reason you can’t look away either. It was mesmerizing.
  4. In the face of such a difficult decision, many “isms” unavoidably present themselves – racism, ageism, sexism. Prejudices are revealed as the jury and the public make suggestions on the fate of the various passengers. I felt like I was experiencing this harrowing event with the jury — struggling with everyone to make this impossible decision and wondering what I would do.
  5. This was also an interesting and frightening study of social media and the mob mentality. Reading about how social media followers reacted to the situation in this story was one of the scarier aspects of the book, probably because it rang a tad too close to how “keyboard warriors” seem to react in real life about any number of topics.
  6. The ending was perhaps a bit dragged out for me personally, but it was ultimately wrapped up nicely and the very end was particularly satisfying.


None. I really loved this book.

This book made me think A LOT! How many of us have made decisions based solely on information provided with no way to determine its validity? How often do people take one person’s word for something and accept it as fact? How often do you even care about getting both sides to a story? In a stressful situation, do you feel like you would make rational decisions or respond in kind with the masses? What do you think about 100% driver-less cars? Would you embrace them or fear them? With the potential for hacking, does that change your opinion?

This book is not only a fantastic thriller, but a thought-provoking novel and very apropos for our current times. I will read more of John Marrs’ books in a heartbeat and I would recommend this particular book to anyone.

In the acknowledgements at the end of the book, the author invites you to go to so you can test yourself and see what kind of decisions you would make in the event of a vehicle collision. It is a driver-less car scenario and in the event of an imminent, catastrophic collision between a car and pedestrians you have to choose who lives and dies. Do you save the passengers in the car or the pedestrians? There are multiple scenarios (children vs. elderly, healthy vs. unhealthy, men vs. women, pregnant woman vs. homeless man, etc.) and it is eye-opening the decisions you end up making when you are forced to choose. I encourage you to try it. If you do try it, do you think the results are based on “isms” or simply smart decisions? Was it hard to determine whose life had more “value” and was more worthy of being saved? I personally found it nearly impossible to get through the scenarios without feeling awful.

Thank you NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy The Passengers. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Click here for a description of my rating scale.

12 thoughts on “The Passengers by John Marrs ★★★★★ #BookReview #BookBlog

  1. I loved books that entertain and yet give you issues and questions to ponder on as well. With driverless cars on the horizon and groupthink mentality, mob mentality and social media issues there is a lot to think about and discuss. Sounds perfect for a book club discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This book sounds so cool! I love books that poke at that downsides of emergent technology. Also, the concept of all the characters being trapped in one place together with the threat of death looming is very reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel. In short: I know I’ll love this story!

    Great review 😁!

    Liked by 1 person

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