cover image The Minders

The Minders

John Marrs. Berkley, $16 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-0-593-33472-0

In this high-octane near-future thriller from Marrs (The Passengers), a covert program to preserve the country’s most crucial records enlists citizens in a most unusual way. Two years earlier, the Hacking Collective infiltrated the network controlling autonomous vehicles, causing collisions that claimed over 5,000 lives. Subsequently, the Collective has launched massive ransomware attacks, leading to fears that the National Archives could also be compromised. The radical solution, to buy time while the security forces devise ultra-secure computer systems, is to take all its contents offline by converting the data into binary code that would then be stored in DNA and injected into people’s brains, where it could later be retrieved. Those living repositories, known as Minders, are selected after passing a test that’s aimed at people with synesthesia. Of course, the plan doesn’t go smoothly, leading to several violent deaths and the government losing track of the Minders’ whereabouts. The effective world-building includes showing how DNA research extends into other realms of society. This page-turner never sacrifices the characters’ humanity for the sake of plot. Marrs has definitely upped his game. (Feb.)