blo Teens Read and Write: THE MARBURY LENS by Andrew Smith

Monday, January 17, 2011

THE MARBURY LENS by Andrew Smith

by Andrew Smith
pub: Nov 2010

Sixteen-year-old Jack gets drunk and is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is kidnapped. He escapes, narrowly. The only person he tells is his best friend, Conner. When they arrive in London as planned for summer break, a stranger hands Jack a pair of glasses. Through the lenses, he sees another world called Marbury. There is war in Marbury. It is a desolate and murderous place where Jack is responsible for the survival of two younger boys. Conner is there, too. But he’s trying to kill them. Meanwhile, Jack is falling in love with an English girl, and afraid he’s losing his mind. Conner tells Jack it’s going to be okay. But, it’s not.

If you can get through THE MARBURY LENS it will impress you, one way or another. It's brutal, gritty, harsh, graphic, and at times very difficult to read. Not what I expected and not for the faint of heart. 

In the first pages, Jack gets drunk, is kidnapped and nearly raped by a sadistic serial killer, escapes, and gets to his BFF Conner but they don't tell anyone what happened. They plot revenge that goes haywire then head off to their planned summer trip to London where Jack gets the lenses. 

Wearing the lenses he's transported to a post-apocalyptic world where he's fighting for his life and protecting two younger boys. He gets addicted to going to Marbury and worried he's going crazy. And is he? Has the trauma he suffered messed with his mind? What's real and what's not are left open to interpretation. 

The violence is brutal - , murder, mayhem, decapitation, dismemberment, flesh eating beetles, cannibalism - all that yummy kind of stuff. There're lots of parallels and connections woven between Jack's two worlds in regards to relationships and people in his life. Friendship and loyalty are the major components of the story and the characters are complicated to say the least. 

Marbury is her kind of town!
Once Jack starts going to Marbury, his time in real-world London can seem boring and I found myself wanting to get back to Marbury - brutal as it may be - apparently as addicted as Jack. (Note to self: If stranger offers cool goggles, run away!)

THE MARBURY LENS is a well-written tale of ugliness - intertwined with strong friendships - that leaves a lot of unanswered questions, and encourages you to make your own conclusions. If you start reading it, you'll have to finish, but I can't guarantee you'll find it satisfying. Powerful? Thought-provoking? Gripping? So gross you want to look away but can't? Yes, but it doesn't tie things up in nice little bows. 

Part dystopian, part horror, part sci-fy. And for older teens only due to sex, drinking, attempted rape, lots of swearing, graphic violence, sadistic killers, etc. Unique, dark, twisted and not your usual YA. 


Unknown said...

I may give it a read. only because I've never tried a book like it before.

Tempi said...

I've liked it, so I'm going to write it down on my Book Depository wishlist. Thank for the review! :)

Anonymous said...

YIKES- So your saying I prob wont like this one, huh. Im one of those sex in YA

Great review!!

Zombie Girrrl said...

Okay, that's a no go. Thanks for the excellent review with the content warning, Alyssa. I might have enjoyed--okay, definitely would have enjoyed--the alternate reality, nightmare scape aspect, but I wouldn't have made it past the first scene to find out. You just saved me $20!

nymfaux said...

Fantastic review!!!--It doesn't sound like something I'd normally pick up, but you have me so curious now, that I'll definitely keep on the lookout for it!!!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Hm... I'm not thrilled with the prospect of a unsatisfying ending, but the rest? Sounds like a twisted novel I might enjoy. Okay, you've given me some information to chew on for a bit. Thanks for the review!!

Golden Eagle said...

It sounds kind of rough for me . . . I'll have to think about reading this one. Thanks for the review!

Blodeuedd said...

It sure sounds like a lot of horrible things are going on in this book. But I am sure I could deal with it

Aylee said...

This sounds intense. I have to be in a particular mood to read something like this but I would really like to give it a try for when I am.

Anonymous said...

I really like the sound of the concept for this one a lot!

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

I finished this a few days ago and my first thoughts were 'this is the strangest thing I have ever read, yet I couldn't put it down.'

Now, I still think it was a strange, unique, and despairing book, but I kinda loved it nonetheless. Normally I don't like such open endings, but in this instance, I think it works. So much in The Marbury Lens can be left up to interpretation and it only seemed fitting that the ending was the same way.

Great review, Alyssa.

Tales of Whimsy said...

Whoa. I wanted to read this but your review has me wondering if it will be too much for me. Thanks for the FAB review and breakdown :)

Unknown said...

Hi Alyssa!

Going on the YA reading list... so many I have to put my hands on... This has been a fantastic year for YA so far! I've had such fun reading YA this year already, can't wait to see what else unfolds during this year (though this one was published in 2010).

The Marbury Lens sounds exciting, harsh, cruel, but with redeeming features, I'll be looking to add it to my iPad!

Thanks for a great review!

Dottie :)

Lola said...

There's been a lot of controversy surrounding this book. I appreciate your honest review. I think I'll hold off reading it for now.


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