“In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it.”
— Lisa Lutz, The Passenger
It’s in our nature to think about our survival when everything is at stake. Survival remains the most fundamental instinct that drives human behavior to pursue their lives and not give in to despair. But it’s the circumstances that brings us to the edge that varies from a person to a person. And the things that a person would do in these situations—and would never have thought of in their daily lives—could make anyone shiver in disgust and even fear. Lisa Lutz brings readers a psychological thriller of a woman who’s past haunts her day and night. It’s only safe to say that Tanya Dubois only sees one way to escape her current plight, a husband laying at the bottom of the stairs lifeless. To run. The Passenger is her story told in first person as she goes in hiding by adapting different identities and looks. It’s in her disguises that she slowly, but surely, looses all grip on her true self and finds herself in an existential crisis with only one objective. To escape. But things get even uglier when Tanya Dubois runs into a women who goes by the name of Blue. Her path then becomes narrower, darker and nerve-wrecking. However, a life on the run is not one that people wish for. Tanya Dubois only contemplates freedom and that’s what she’s going after. To live.
Careful with this novel. It’s bound to grab you by the hand and drag you through mud, rocks and gravel before you could even know it! The Passenger is a brilliantly constructed story. Tanya Dubois’ adventure is nothing short of exhilarating and there isn’t a single dull chapter, since every second of her life is filled with action and suspense. To make things even more intriguing, several email communications with a certain individual is also incorporated throughout the novel. Not only does this bring a new layer of story-telling into play, it also adds to the already innumerable questions that arises for the reader on the protagonist. Why is she running? What was her past all about? Lisa Lutz does a magnificent job in keeping the speed on overdrive and making the readers crave for answers. Although an obvious vicious cycle is observable in her life, the pattern can also be seen as a brilliant portrayal of a life sinking to new lows every opportunity it has. Change identity, hide, drink, run. The repetition of this toxic life does nothing more than grandly affect her own knowledge of her personality and who she is, but that’s also where Lisa Lutz succeeds in creating a fascinating character.
Tanya Dubois is a sophisticated character who’s personality is almost nonexistent. In fact, she doesn’t have anything to tell us about herself for readers to attach to her. Essential a sponge that absorbs as much information as she can on individuals she pretends to be, readers are left to follow the story of a woman with no self. This gives great leeway for readers to try and decipher her character and who she is through her actions. For a novel that’s told in first person, with a touch of diary-like writing, you also feel the adrenaline rush, the confusion and the thirst for freedom that drives the protagonist. Her evolution is impeccably executed and, even in this high-octane adventure, is quickly observable. Without any surprise, the characters that she meets throughout her runaway life are also sources of intrigue. Blue, for example, is just as mysterious as the protagonist and serves as an implicit role model for Tanya Dubois’ growth. Her character also adds a brilliant dimension to the story’s potential to drive it to a formidable ending. There’s no lying here, the novel ends in a clever fashion. It delivers a perfect ending to a life filled with dangerous decisions and careless actions.
The Passenger is a fast-paced psychological thriller with the right amount of twists and turns. There’s no denying that readers will have their breath taken away from all the craziness that surrounds the life of Tanya Dubois and that multiple lives she’s about to live. Although Lisa Lutz has created a compelling work of fiction, it is very much difficult to not see the realism put into a character who’s conflicted with the life she pursues. Her life begs her to go along through difficult and dangerous decisions only to leave her a passenger to her actions. Once a bad decision is taken, there’s no running away from it. Being put on that seat has never been more life-wrecking than it was for Tanya Dubois who’s life is nothing more than a question of survival and a discovery of a lost self. If you’re looking for a thrilling adventure that keeps you guessing and second-guessing, that has you following a main character who’s being chased by her past and that leaves you in awe at the sight of a deplorable life, then look no further than The Passenger by Lisa Lutz. A woman stuck in such predicaments is a sad story. But a story that you should experience yourself.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for sending us an advance copy for review!
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