by John Marrs
My rating: 3 / 5
Genre: Sci-fi thriller
In a future where self-driving cars are becoming the norm, a mysterious Hacker takes control of 8 different vehicles, each with Passengers inside. These eight people are told that they will likely be dead in just over two hours. The Hacker than forces a jury of 5, alongside the entire world watching from their electronic devices, to decide which one of the eight should be saved.
I was really into this book for for the first 80%, which were parts 1 and 2. If I gave a rating just on that much of the book, it would be a solid 4 stars. Then part 3 came along, and everything just fell apart for me. The writing was good, for the most part, and some of the characters were interesting. Some were major stereotypes, but to be honest, with that many characters, it doesn’t surprise me. But the thriller aspect just died in the last 20%, even with a push to bring it back.
To be honest, the hacking done on the cars might have been wholly unrealistic, but I don’t really care. I’m blessed to be someone who can just enjoy it for what it is, because I don’t really know a lot about software, AI, or electronics in general. It was pretty clear that some of the Passengers were only in the book so that the Hacker could show how serious he was, as the number quickly dwindled from 8 to 5. Each of those 5 Passengers has their secrets, which are unveiled as the Hacker hurtles them to their doom.
While this is happening, the protagonist, a woman named Libby, is one of the 5 on the jury that is being forced to decide these people’s fate. While there were some things that she did that really bugged me, it was a good perspective to watch the events from. The very end of part 2 was a bit confusing to me, and unfortunately, in the mess that was parts 3 & 4, the book didn’t really give a satisfying reason for what happened.
Parts 3 & 4 are messy and mostly unnecessary. They felt like a tack-on, and frankly, soured the mysterious nature of the Hacker. I felt like there were too many attempted twists, and I quickly got to a point where I just didn’t believe anything, which makes it difficult to enjoy a book.
In the end, I am glad I read this book. Enough of it was enjoyable that I would recommend it for fans of sci-fi, especially people who enjoy books that show horror stories about the direction our technology is heading. Because of the many higher ratings this book has gotten, definitely check it out if you think you might enjoy it.
**Side note: One of the characters in this futuristic story mentioned that Facebook peaked in 2020. The idea of this was really funny to me.
Thank you to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for providing me a copy of this book to review.
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