STAFF PICK: The Passengers by John Marrs

Title: The Passengers
Author: John Marrs
Narrator: Clare Corbett, Roy McMillan, Tom Bateman

Modern life is so strange.  I have an amazing phone app from my grocery store that, based on my past purchases sends me discounts, and seems to know when I’ve run out of shower gel, laundry soap, and cookies. Very, very creepy, but very, very convenient. Can you even imagine life now without phone apps, online DNA tests, or driverless transit systems like London Thameslink or Vancouver’s skytrain?

Many people are frightened of the growth of AI, which has lead to a growth in the popularity of dystopian literature, TV, and film, including shows and movies like Black Mirror, Ex Machina, and novels such as The Test.  I feel that there is nothing scarier (and more entertaining) than listening or reading something that you can actually imagine happening. I don’t generally find horror books scary, but a horror or thriller, set in modern times, involving normal day to day things? Nothing scarier.

The Passengers is such an all-encompassing, terrifying read. This listen is set in a society – not far from our own – where self-driving cars are now the norm. Considered to be safe, self-driving cars are used by everyone without issues.

One evening, eight people:  a faded TV star, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man, are traveling in their self-driving cars as usual. Suddenly, the doors lock, the destination changes, and all manual controls are disabled. Then a voice speaks, “You are going to die.”

From hidden cameras in their cars, their panic is broadcast to millions of people around the world. This situation is now a reality show with a twist. The public gets to choose which of the eight to save, which means killing the remaining seven….

What I love most about this listen is the way in which you feel like you are in the audience of the reality show.  During the book, the “voice” gives us more information about the eight people. Because of this information, the perception of the public changes, and suddenly the people who seem like they should stay alive become less deserving once we hear more about them. I started actually thinking about who I would kill first, and changed my mind over and over about who I felt should be saved. Much like Marrs’ other books, there are plenty of twists and turns that keep you listening and guessing right up until the end.

The audio production for this book is amazing. There’s a number of awesome narrators, and a barrage of sound effects, which adds to the idea that you’re listening to a reality show that’s happening live. It really adds to the drama of the situation.

If you’re a fan of writers such as J.G Ballard, or TV shows like Black Mirror, this is very much the listen for you! I’m now binge listening to the rest of John Marrs’ back catalog, and keeping away from all robots… 😉

Publisher Summary:
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?’

Read more and sample the audio →

New to Audiobooks.com? Get your first book free, PLUS a bonus book from our VIP selection when you sign up for our one-month free trial. Digital audiobooks make audible stories come to life when you’re commuting, working out, cleaning, cooking, and more! Listening is easy with our top-rated free audiobook apps for iOS and Android, which let you download & listen to bestselling audiobooks on the go, wherever you are. Click here to get your free audiobooks!

SHARE

STAFF PICK: A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson

Title: A Nearly Normal Family
Author: M.T. Edvardsson
Narrators: Emily Watson, Richard Armitage, Georgia Maguire

If you haven’t heard of M.T. Edvardsson, the author of A Nearly Normal Family, then that is going to change really, really, soon. Edvardsson is not a new writer, and has written a number of critically acclaimed books in his native Sweden, both in the genres of thriller, and young adult. You can see these different aspects of his writing at play in A Nearly Normal Family, which is the first of his novels to be available in audio in Canada and the US.

A Nearly Normal Family initially appealed to me because of a question asked in the synopsis of the book: “How far would you go to protect your children?” As a parent, instantly you want to say “I’d do anything”, but then you start to think. Would you lie to the police? Lie in court? A Nearly Normal Family challenges these ideas through the story of eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell, a girl accused of the murder of a shady businessman. Her father is a pastor, her mother, a criminal defense attorney. They find their morality tested to the extreme as they, of course, defend their daughter, even in the face of evidence, and in the aftermath of their daughter’s strange behavior.

The book is told in three parts. The first section is from the perspective of Adam, the father, the second, from the perspective of Stella, and the third, from Ulrika, Stella’s mother. What I find incredibly interesting is that with each section, your perception of the characters changes. Without giving anything away, I found that when Adam narrated, I felt sympathy for him, and very little for Stella. When Stella narrated, I began to dislike her parents, and felt so sorry for her. It’s a roller-coaster of emotions!

While this is listed as a legal thriller, and there’s a lot of great courtroom drama, it’s also very much a domestic thriller, with a lot of flashbacks, and background about the family, and psychological twists and turns.

The narrators of this book are amazing! Emily Watson, Georgia Maguire, and Richard Armitage, all of whom are excellent actors and narrators, bring gravitas to this serious and dramatic listen.

If you’re a fan of legal thrillers, domestic thrillers, or anything with psychological twists and turns, then this will certainly appeal to you. I think we will be seeing much more of Edvardsson in the future,  if this amazing novel is anything to go by.

Publisher Summary: 

M.T. Edvardsson’s A Nearly Normal Family is a gripping legal thriller that forces the listener to consider: How far would you go to protect the ones you love? In this twisted narrative of love and murder, a horrific crime makes a seemingly normal family question everything they thought they knew about their life-and one another.

Eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell stands accused of the brutal murder of a man almost fifteen years her senior. She is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?

Stella’s father, a pastor, and mother, a criminal defense attorney, find their moral compasses tested as they defend their daughter, while struggling to understand why she is a suspect. Told in an unusual three-part structure, A Nearly Normal Family asks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them?

Read more and sample the audio →

New to Audiobooks.com? Get 2 free audiobooks when you sign up for our one-month free trial. Digital audiobooks make audible stories come to life when you’re commuting, working out, cleaning, cooking, and more! Listening is easy with our top-rated free audiobook apps for iOS and Android, which let you download & listen to bestselling audiobooks on the go, wherever you are. Click here to get your free audiobooks!

SHARE