The Minders – John Marrs

Cover image for The Minders by John Marrs

Title: The Minders
Author: John Marrs
Published by: Del Rey
Publication date: 17th Sept 2020
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

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Blurb/Synopsis

In the 21st century, information is king. But computers can be hacked and files can be broken into – so a unique government initiative has been born. Five ordinary people have been selected to become Minders – the latest weapon in thwarting cyberterrorism. Transformed by a revolutionary medical procedure, the country’s most classified information has been taken offline and turned into genetic code implanted inside their heads.

Together, the five know every secret – the truth behind every government lie, conspiracy theory and cover up. In return, they’re given the chance to leave their problems behind and a blank slate to start their lives anew.

But not everyone should be trusted, especially when they each have secrets of their own they’ll do anything to protect…

Review

I received a copy of The Minders in the post by Del Rey as a review copy. My thanks to Del Rey for sending me a copy of this book. I hope that you find my review satisfactory.


The setting for The Minders is near future. Technology has advanced from what we’re content with today in the form of autonomous ground transport and smartglasses. It’s the future but one that feels within reaching distance – therefore it’s not difficult to conjure up the imagery of the world setting. The crux of The Minders is it’s a thriller with Science-Fiction elements. The Sci-Fi elements are believably written against a backdrop of ‘normality’ People still meet up in pubs, work in offices and watch day-time television. The world-setting has been carefully crafted to make the events within The Minders believable; even the more absurd elements to the plot.

Five strangers have the Governments Secrets encoded into their DNA for safe-keeping while they work on a more safe and secure method of storing the information as previous methods upheld by other places in the world are under attack from a group called the ‘Hacking Collective’

Each of these central characters have reasons for wanting to abandon the lives they were living before and were specially picked due to a having the neurological condition Synesthesia; where the mind interprets one of the senses along with another.

The characters are each interesting and intriguing in their own right. Each one has a unique flair distinct personality. Flicks obsession with her DNA Match (A dating service that matches your DNA to your soul mate) was heart-breaking for more reasons than one. Brunos struggles with single-parenthood of a special-needs child and his adaptation to becoming a Minder were captivating and just as heart-wrenching as Flicks troubles. Charlie; a young-man wreaked with guilt. Sinead, a woman married to the worst sort of husband and Emilia who cannot remember a thing about herself and her life.

What particularly resonated with me was how the implantation of the DNA changed the characters. Each of the developed in different ways, some settled well to their new lives others struggled with letting go of their old ones and others with their emotions and the knowledge that they carried. I found myself leave one character behind (As the chapters are dedicated to one character at a time) with a feeling of ‘Oh, wow’ only to have that emotion ramped up the next time that character came around, and I felt this with each character not just a few of them.

Each of these characters lives are tragic in their own ways. Riddled with forlorn emotions for one reason or another – each tale is told expertly and each characters reveals are crafted with expert care. Backstories are interwoven with the current happenings to keep the pace of the book exciting. I particularly enjoyed the ‘guessing game’ of The Minders which kept me turning the pages as I was often wrong-footed with my thoughts, right up until the Epilogue!

The Minders is an extremely clever book. The narrative full of twists and turns that I couldn’t see coming. I was blind-sided by events so many times that I was breathless. So cleverly crafted is the plot and how the characters lives play-out I found it almost impossible to predict what was going to happen.

The Minders is very relevant to todays news, which is something I’ve come to appreciate in novels. There are references to the corona-virus being a great-killer, but nothing compared to the Hacking Collectives terrorist acts. I felt that this added to the realism that helped to prop up the rest of the novel. Without these references to real life as we know it, the book would lack awareness and the heart of the novel (Storing Data in DNA strands in the Minders brains) would feel ludicrous. However, because there is such a strong grounding in reality, the rest of the novel is able to stand.

On a somewhat more personal note the places in which some of the minders ended up are close to places in which I have lived or currently live. Manchester and Oundle. Having the city of Peterborough mentioned made me smile. Each place seemed well researched and accurate to my understandings of these places.

I’ve not read anything else by John Marrs, but after reading The Minders, I shall certainly correct this as his writing style is easy to digest; especially for the Sci-Fi genre that The Minders crosses over into – I find that this genre can easily over-complicate itself. So, while the plot of The Minders is certainly complex, it’s still easy enough to read and understand. I personally appreciate this particular stroke of genius as it means that the author has done a fine job of presenting their craft.

Summary

A slice-of-life style novel with the twists and turns of a thriller. Immaculate world crafting that leaves the reader with positive, if somewhat wary, impressions of a futuristic world. Character driven plot that leaves the reader playing a guessing game that, I personally, lost every time. Cracking book that I highly recommend if you like your stories laced with tragedy.

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