The Minders by John Marrs

details
Title: The Minders.
Writer(s)John Marrs.
Publisher: Berkley Books.
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: February 16th, 2021.
Pages: 416.
Genre(s): Science-Fiction, Thriller.
ISBN13:  9780593334720.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

thoughts

Sometimes you have to wonder how far you’d go to get the chance to reset your life, to have a brand-new beginning where your past has no incidence on who you are and who you become. In a world where tragedy strikes us off guard far too often and inevitably chains us to misery, it isn’t out of the ordinary to wish for a clean slate to start anew. But at what cost? With our identity at the mercy of this technological era, only drastic measures could create such a quixotic opportunity but maybe that’s all you need to approach life with brand new lenses. Writer John Marrs returns for a brand-new novel set within the same world as his previous hits, The One and The Passengers, to explore a near-future science-fiction thriller where secrets drown humanity and bring out the worse of us.

What is The Minders about? Following the deployment of a government initiative created to counter the ever-growing issue of cyberterrorism, five ordinary individuals have been selected to become “Minders”, people who go through an invasive yet revolutionary biochemical engineering procedure that allows the government to insert top-secret classified information into their genetic code through the head. On the promise to keep these secrets to themselves, from conspiracy theories to cover-ups, for five years, restrained in their interactions and habitual routines, they’ll only be rewarded with the means to a new life upon completing their contract. Unfortunately for the government, humans are flawed and they too have secrets of their own. After all, nothing is ever safe in the world.

“What would you say if we offered you the opportunity to start your life again?

— John Marrs

Alternating between five different characters (Emilia, Flick, Charlie, Sinéad, and Bruno) through short and snappy chapters, the story indulgently explores the lives of these individuals while laying out the plausible near-future setting. Although it allows the reader to better grasp the motives and drives of these characters set in a world not too unrelatable to ours, as you slowly peel away at their darkest secrets, the mundanity of their lives drags the narrative through more than the first half of the book. It is only when you finally see the effect of becoming a Minder on who these characters are and watch as they become targets, that the story picks up its pace and requires the reader to suspend his disbelief to revel in the author’s ideas. First-time readers of John Marrs’ books are bound to find his vision quite confusing at times, making you wonder within which framework he is building this world and this story.

Nevertheless, intriguing questions on nature versus nurture are seamlessly interspersed in the narrative, especially through the behaviours of certain characters, while other questions on faith and utopia are also tackled. While the focus isn’t necessarily on introspective reflections about life, the story at least tries to invite readers to ponder society’s progress and the societal risks related to our identity that we face in our daily lives. Unfortunately, there’s a certain absence of coherence in what goes on in this story that a not-too-versed reader of this universe will likely find unappealing, deterring them from fully appreciating its potential. Although the action picks up a bit too late in the story, it does allow it to remain thrilling and captivating to those who dare to be patient but ultimately suffers from its numerous characters and incongruous twists.

The Minders is an intriguing and oddly-paced near-future thriller following the lives of five strangers whose secrets will send them headfirst into danger.


EXHIBITA
Thank you to Berkley books for sending me a copy for review!

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31 comments

  • Excellent review again. Now I think I would be among the ones wondering where the author wants to go. Scientific thrillers or rather technological thrillers are not my favorites even if I can indeed see the merit here. What would we do to begin anew indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sophie! I appreciate it. This subgenre is indeed quite ambitious and it’s not surprising to see how insane some ideas can be in here. You just have to crave for it before you dive into it. 😛

      Like

  • As soon as I saw some earlier reviews of this I was immediately turned off by the pure and unadulterated ludicrousness of the very idea propping the book up. Why I can’t suspend belief for this but can for other “techno” thrillers (Jurassic Park just doesn’t work that way!) is beyond me.

    Glad it was a good time for you and I hope any future books entertain you as well, ’cause they’re all yours! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yep, some ideas are quite ludicrous, and accepting them is definitely the first step before daring such stories, otherwise, what comes next will make you want to pull your hair or something hahah Not sure when’s the next time I’d read a John Marrs story but, for the time being, I don’t have any plans of rushing myself back into his peculiar world. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! I think that would be a very wise choice too. I think I would’ve enjoyed this more had I already had some experience with the author’s world in the two other books he had written set in the same world.

      Liked by 1 person

  • So far I’ve steered clear of his books because the descriptions (and reviews) of each strike me as just too much over the top for me to suspend my disbelief. And like Bookstooge, I just find the general premise of inserting secrets into a group of people as so ludicrous as to kill my ability to go along with it. But I’m glad to see you enjoyed it. I suspect I might be more willing to accept his books in movie form (shorter) than books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, there are some premises that are just so hard to swallow unless properly chewed for us (ew… hehe). I think reading The Passengers or The One beforehand would’ve helped me better prepare myself for the world in The Minders. I also totally agree about the movie format for this kind of story. It would definitely be much easier to appreciate the story in that form!

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  • Not for the first time I’ve read that this book, despite its intriguing premise, does suffer a little if the reader is not already familiar with the author’s previous works that seem to act as an introduction to the world the story is set in. I will probably need to do some… homework before I give this one a try, but I will keep your thought-provoking review in mind once I do 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s odd that I could feel like those two other books would’ve helped me better appreciate this one though. Especially when they’re being marketed as stand-alone novels instead of “sequels” or “same universe” novels. Thanks for reading, Maddalena! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Great and honest review Lashaan. I have not read any of Marrs books, but do have The Passengers on my TBR. Not sure when I will get to it, I am not a huge Sci-Fi reader.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I keep saying, I want to read something by this author, but it never seems to happen. Glad you enjoyed this one, but not sure you have me convinced. Being a sceptical person, who easily gets confused 😆 it just doesn’t sound right for me. More likely, I would give The Passengers a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I said the same and thought The Minders would be a cool place to start but I guess it wasn’t. I’d have definitely recommended by past self to try The Passengers and The One before. Hopefully, anyone intrigued will start there to better appreciate John Marrs’ books. Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  • Great in-depth review, Lashaan – seems a bit more harsh than the 4 stars would have indicated 😉 I think I’ll give it a pass – don’t think I’d be inclined or even able to suspend disbelief in this scenario, and it seems that this book doesn’t work otherwise 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ola! Huuuh, doesn’t it say 3.5 stars though? It’s definitely closer to a 3.25 in my books too. If you ever do find yourself curious for this one, I think you should maybe try the other two “stand-alone” books set in the same universe. They apparently help in better understanding what kind of story you’ll get from John Marrs. Thing I should’ve done before reading The Minders hahah

      Liked by 1 person

  • Great review! I was wondering about this one as it sounds very interesting, sorry it didn’t exactly work for you. I think I need to pick up The Passengers first to get a taste of Marrs’ writing before decided to read this one or not.

    Liked by 1 person

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