First of all, did anyone else watch Project Runway? Did you pick a favorite designer to root for? I pick Bert. And before you go accusing me of being a fair-weather fan, I picked him before he won the first challenge. It looks like this season is going to be full of drama and crying and Tim promises a season of “firsts.” I am intrigued. Now, moving on to books. This next book, The Marbury Lens, had been on my TBR list forever. It even made it home with me a few times, only to go back to the library unread. I am not sure where the resistance came from. After all, it received great reviews and awards. It is an ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults 2011 book and it won the Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book of the Year for Fiction 2010. I am embarrassed to say that I had to make myself read this one. I am so glad I did because this is one wild, riveting read.
The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith 2010
Sixteen-year-old Jack finds himself in the wrong place, at the wrong time after having too much to drink at a party. He is kidnapped, drugged, and nearly assaulted before he escapes. The only person he tells is his best friend, Connor. Jack just wants to forget the whole thing and he hopes their trip to London will help. Unfortunately a new nightmare begins when a stranger gives Jack an unusual pair of glasses. Through these lenses Jack can see Marbury, a war-torn, desolate land filled with murderous creatures. In Marbury Jack is responsible for the survival of two younger boys. In London Jack is falling in love and Connor is reassuring him that he is not losing his mind. In Marbury he is being hunted. The desire to see things through to the end in Marbury threatens his relationships and his sanity, but the pull is like an addiction. Can Jack free himself from The Marbury Lens before it is too late?
I could not put this book down. Just as Jack was desperate for more of the Marbury story, I too needed to what happened next. The story is so compelling that I found myself willing to believe that Marbury is real and that the events could truly be happening. I wonder if I should have been questioning my own sanity? Underneath the horror is a powerful story of friendship, addiction and trauma and the lengths the mind will go to in order to protect itself.
I loved the relationship between Jack and Connor. I can’t think of any other book that I have read that portrays such a deep and loving friendship between teenaged boys. Sure, they joke around with each other and give each other a hard time, but they trust, understand, and help each other always. It was the one positive thing a dark, brutal world. I also really enjoyed Seth’s story. Saying anymore about him would spoil the story, but I will say his story was interesting and the role he played in Jack’s life was fascinating.
This book is certainly not for everyone. It has both realistic and imaginary horrors, violence, gore, drinking, and a ton of swearing. However, the writing is amazing and the story is unique and thought-provoking. I loved it and find myself still thinking about it, wondering…
The unique blend of realistic fiction and science fiction make it hard to come up with readalikes. Here is what I have decided-horror like Stephen King, gritty reality like Ellen Hopkins or Elizabeth Scott’s Living Dead Girl, and disturbing dystopian society like Suzanne Collin’s Panem.