Friday, April 13, 2012

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith

by:  Andrew Smith
published by:  Feiwal + Friends
publish date:  November 9, 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. Andrew Smith has written his most beautiful and personal novel yet, as he explores the nightmarish outer limits of what trauma can do to our bodies and our minds.

My first thoughts on this one was: "Wow, what a messed up book!"  I did like it.  I was completely sucked into the story from the very beginning.  It was filled with a lot of violence and intensity.  The levels really surprised me.

The Marbury Lens was one of those books that makes me wonder what YA publishers are thinking when they market certain types of books to teenagers.   If this book was a movie it would definitely be rated R.   This wasn't the first book to make me think about this issue.  This book had images of war with decapitated heads and cut off penises nailed to a wall.  In Marbury cannibalism is common.  In the real world the main character is kidnapped and nearly raped.  There's also a little underage drinking and sex thrown in to keep things interesting.

All that aside, I thought it was a unique and imaginative story.  I've definitely never read anything similar, maybe something by Stephen King might come close.  If you like your books dark and disturbing, The Marbury Lens is the one for you.

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