I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Marriage Act by John Marrs
Published by Pan MacMillan on January 19, 2023
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Suspense, Science Fiction, Crime & Mystery, Dystopian, Mystery & Detective, General
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
From John Marrs, the bestselling author of The One. Set in the same world, The Marriage Act is a dark, high-concept thriller.
‘One of the most exciting original thriller writers’ - Simon Kernick, author of Good Cop Bad Cop
What if marriage was the law? Dare you disobey?
Britain. The near-future. A right-wing government believes it has the answer to society’s ills – the Sanctity of Marriage Act, which actively encourages marriage as the norm, punishing those who choose to remain single.
But four couples are about to discover just how impossible relationships can be when the government is monitoring every aspect of our personal lives, tracking every word, every minor disagreement . . . and will use every tool in its arsenal to ensure everyone will love, honour and obey.
Black Mirror meets thriller with a dash of Naomi Alderman’s The Power.
Praise for John Marrs:
'Clever, compelling and terrifyingly plausible. A near future nightmare that grips from the first page and never let’s go . . . talk about a page-turner. This one will leave you with paper cuts! – C. J. Tudor, bestselling author of The Chalk Man
“A smart, gripping and scarily believable story from the master of the speculative thriller.”— T.M. Logan, author of The Catch
'John’s creative, high-concept thrillers never fail to keep me furiously turning the pages and The Marriage Act is no exception . . . dark, immersive speculative fiction at it’s very best!' – Sarah Pearse, author of The Retreat
'A scarily plausible alternative future with a truly twisted narrative. Tensely plotted and terrifyingly imagined! - Harriet Tyce, author of Blood Orange
The Marriage Act highlights the true cost of having liberties stripped. Cleverly woven and makes you truly sit and think. Addictive to the end.
The Marriage Act…well what can I say? For one I was afraid, John Marrs has a devilish mind. As a married woman, it still brought a chill to my veins. I enjoy being married, but as a choice, I wouldn’t want to feel railroaded into it. I wouldn’t want that choice to be marred by outside sources. I wouldn’t want that very important decision to be made because as a couple we could get lower mortgage rates, better cars, better homes, and access to healthcare at a reduced cost. The scariest thing is, I could imagine an act like this being adopted and that truly frightened me.
I’m ashamed to say that this is the first Marrs novel that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Blogger friends rave about his skill and yet I just never got around to it. Now that I have, I almost wish I hadn’t.
The Marriage Act is told from the POV of five individuals, Arthur, Corinne, Roxi, Anthony, and Jeffrey. Each person has different experiences of the Act, but all are feeling the cracks beginning to widen. It’s post covid and Brexit and the government is trying to find a way to rebuild Britain. The economy was at an all-time low, and the sanctity of marriage was no longer held in high regard. The government needed to act and with corrupt politicians at the helm, The Marriage Act was born. You can now find your perfect match with a DNA database and with higher penalties for staying single, entering into a marriage with your significant other unfortunately makes financial sense. Just don’t let the Alexa-type device hear friction…
These devices can hear a lot, installed when couples sign up for the marriage act or when already married couples level up. It automatically records snippets of your conversations to assess whether your marriage is in trouble. Marriage isn’t always a bed of roses and to think I’d need to censor myself in moments of frustration would be well, frustrating. If your relationship is flagged as needing help, then you have the delight of being allocated a relationship responder who has the option of setting up camp in your home for up to 8 weeks for intensive counselling. That is the role of people like Jeffrey…
WOW, Jeffrey really was a calculated piece of work. I instantly disliked his conniving, holier-than-thou persona. He is allocated the clients Noah and Luca who have been identified as having problems. He is instantly taken with Luca and promises to find any kinks and make them bigger. If they didn’t have problems before they will by the time Jeffrey is finished with them.
Anthony has the hard job of keeping what he really does for the government hidden from his family. He doesn’t have long until he can retire and move his family to St. Lucia, the sun and the glorious palm trees are calling him, but when the next job comes in, he finds it’s all a little too close to home and wants out now before it’s too late.
Now to Roxi whom I have to say is a character that epitomises what I dislike about the whole influencer culture that has emerged in recent years. She’s a nasty shade of green and compares her life to others that appear to have it all, especially Jem Jones who was the poster child of The Marriage Act. She had everything until the trolls pushed her to her death. Roxi sees an opening for her to become the new Jem Jones, even when it negatively affects her family. She has it all – the loving husband and two beautiful children, but she’s too foresighted to see it. I see so much of this on Tik Tok, I think it’s addictive, once those followers start increasing its like a drug and you can’t stop.
Connie despises The Marriage Act. It has kept her in an incredibly toxic marriage with her husband, Mitchell. She wants out and she wants out now. She’s joined the opposition party that is against the act and together they get dirt on one of the government’s main players MP Harrison.
Arthur’s story touched me the most. He and his wife levelled up their marriage and enjoyed the benefits but when June develops one of the last incurable dementias, he does everything he can not to be detected by the devices. Time runs out and his relationship responder discovers something that can’t be ignored.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Until recently, I worked as a freelance journalist based in London, England, and spent 25 years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines.
I wrote for publications including The Guardian’s Guide and Guardian Online; OK! Magazine; Total Film; Empire; Q; GT; The Independent; Star; Reveal; Company; Daily Star and News of the World’s Sunday Magazine.
My debut novel The Wronged Sons, was released in 2013 and in May 2015, I released my second book, Welcome To Wherever You Are.
In May 2017 came my third book, The One. It was chosen as the book of the month for BBC Radio 2’s Book Club.
The Wronged Sons was re-edited and re-released in July 2017 under a new title, When You Disappeared.
My fourth book, The Good Samaritan, was released in November 2017 and became a Number One hit world-wide.
In 2018 I released my police procedural thriller Her Last Move, and thanks to my brilliant readers, I was able to start working as a full-time author.
in April 2019 came The Passengers, a thriller with a futuristic twist set in driverless cars.
A year later came bestseller What Lies Between Us, a psychological thriller which has been optioned by Renée Zellweger’s production company and won the International Thriller Writers award for Best Paperback Original Novel 2021.
Also last year came The Minders, another work of speculative fiction which has earned some rave reviews from publications including the Wall Street Journal and has been optioned by Miramax.
This summer I re-released Welcome to Wherever You Are with a new edit and new title, The Vacation. It was shortlisted in the 2022 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize.
On October 18, I will be releasing my next psychological thriller Keep It In The Family. And in January 2023 comes the hardback and e-book version of The Marriage Act, a brand new work of speculative fiction.