Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Speed Meets The Hunger Games in High-Octane Thriller

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

My husband's favorite feature on his new Tesla Model 3 is its ability to drive itself.  While the technology that makes this possible is, admittedly, pretty amazing, I find it a little ... terrifying.  My husband insists the car is always "learning," but its self-driving programming is far, far from perfect. When the vehicle lurches across the road for no reason or tries to exit the freeway unexpectedly, it's unnerving, to say the least. My husband may be fine with letting the car drive itself, but I am certainly not!

All of this is to say that I'm totally the target audience for John Marrs' new thriller, The Passengers. The plot plays on the fears of people like me who are not entirely sold on "progress," especially when it means an ever-increasing reliance on computers, robots, artificial intelligence, etc.  I, for one, find the novel's premise absolutely horrifying.  


The book is set in England in the near future.  The government has determined to ban all non-autonomous vehicles within ten years, gradually replacing them with driverless cars.  With the government offering huge incentives for people to buy the most advanced model of self-driving cars, British roads are already teeming with driverless sedans, taxis, buses, etc.  Despite guarantees of safety, not everyone is convinced.  Libby Dixon, for one, abhors the idea of autonomous vehicles.  She's even more disgusted by her mandatory summons to be part of a top-secret inquest committee that evaluates fault in accidents involving such.

When an inquest meeting is interrupted by a shocking news bulletin, Libby is sick to see that eight people are trapped in their driverless cars.  "The Hacker" is controlling their vehicles, the routes they are now traveling, and the massive collision he says will be imminent in just 2 1/2 hours.  As the passengers realize what is happening, their every emotion is captured with in-car cameras and broadcast to millions of viewers across the world.  An even greater panic ensues when The Hacker informs all that the public will choose who will live and who will die.  In what appears to be the most macabre and deadliest reality show ever created, no one will escape unscathed.

Aptly billed as Speed meets The Hunger Games, The Passengers is a high-octane thriller that kept me glued to the page.  It's gruesome and depressing, not gonna lie, but it's also a compelling and thought-provoking read.  In a world where every intimate detail of our lives is recorded, broadcast, and offered up for public examination, The Passengers asks some important questions about privacy, trust, bias, justice, and the role of technology and social media in our lives.  If you can handle the grimness, it's a thought-provoking read that would make for a lively book club discussion.     

(Readalikes:  The Passengers definitely reminds me of The Hunger Games, but I'm not sure what else to compare it to.  Suggestions?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Passengers from the generous folks at Penguin Random House.  Thank you!

12 comments:

  1. Hackers like the ones in this book are why I don't want a smart house...or a smart car!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm definitely reading this one. And I'm totally horrified imagining the scenes. No driverless car for me or smart house or, or, or....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My husband is all about smart everything. I am definitely not. It creeps me out!

      Delete
  3. Oh wow, this one sounds really good. I am intrigued by the whole premise of hackers playing games exactly like these in the near future because it's just inevitable that if it's possible some creep is going to figure out how to do it while remaining anonymous.

    ...oh, and the thought of riding in a self-driving car that's learning on the job scares me to death. LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm actually amazed by how well the Tesla drives itself MOST of the time. However, I've been in it when it makes crazy, unexpected swerves or does NOT anticipate something that it's supposed to. As long as the driver is alert, accidents should not happen. But, what if the driver is dozing or on their phone or reading a book? It would be just as unsafe as someone doing the same in a regular car!

      Delete
  4. I do not let my Tesla drive itself; I am just not confident or able to not be in control! This book sounds scary because it's a bit too real.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When my husband first bought the Tesla, he got some kind of free trial of the driverless option and was SOLD. He pays a bunch of extra money to have it every day. In his opinion, it's totally worth it. In mine? Nuh uh.

      Delete
  5. I have read a lot of wonderful reviews on this book. It scares me to think that this could actually happen in the not too distant future. I think I will stick to driving my own car for as long as I can.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a novel that's very hard to put down. I think because we're all intrigued and (at least a little) horrified by the implications of humanity's ever-increasing dependence on and trust in technology.

      Delete
  6. This book sounds wild! I agree with you completely, Susan, all the technology sometimes scares me, especially cars that drive themselves. I refuse to get a Dot or an Alexa Echo device, too. People - total strangers - are listening to everything we do and say!!! It's freaky. It's bad enough that our cell phones record everything we're doing or places we're going. There's very little privacy anymore and I can see why some people try to go "off the grid".

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've watched enough cyber crime type TV shows that I've very skeptical of the whole self driving feature. It's just asking for someone to hack in and do some damage! This sounds like a good read though one that would terrify me because I know just how reliant I am on my phone!

    ReplyDelete

Comments make me feel special, so go crazy! Just keep it clean and civil. Feel free to speak your mind (I always do), but be aware that I will delete any offensive comments.

P.S.: Don't panic if your comment doesn't show up right away. I have to approve each one before it posts to prevent spam. It's annoying, but it works!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin