Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Review: The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith

Hardcover: 368
Release Date: November 9, 2011
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Author Info: Website | Twitter
Buy the Book: Amazon | IndieBound
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.
This book rocked my freaking face off. Now that I’ve gotten that out there, let me back up and start again. In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s no way that isn’t going to end up on my Top Reads of 2012 (yes, I think about these things 6 months in advance).

Remember James and the Giant Peach? (I swear, I’m going somewhere with this) If you read the book (or watched the awesome claymation Henry Selick movie), then you know the story of little orphan James, who is forced to live with terrible aunts and escapes that life in a giant peach. The Marbury Lens felt very similar to that. Here we have Jack who’s got a pretty craptastic life to start off with, then he gets kidnapped, severely abused, barely escapes and ends up with a lot more mental scars than physical. Then Jack discovers and escapes to Marbury. A dark, almost post-apocalyptic world where he and his friends have to fight every second to survive and where Jack can run from his demons. Until his demons start hunting him there and the lines between what’s real and what’s not, blurs. (Wow, that was a good summary -- I should be one of those jacket summary writers.)

But let me clear in this, THIS IS NOT A CHILD’S FAIRYTALE. It merely has hints of a common fairytale storyline (James and the Giant Peach, Bridge to Terabithia, Chronicles of Narnia, etc.) but this is dark dark dark. To say that Jack’s abduction messes with his head, would be an understatement. It alters his world; his being. It’s pitch-black dark and lavishly twisted, but I for the life of me, could put not it down, even while I was (inappropriately) reading it while babysitting. Dark and as effed up as it is, it is completely and utterly captivating.

Now here’s something I didn’t anticipate with this book. It’s a buddy story! Since I was a little one, I LOVE LOVE LOVE a good story with best-best guy friends or very tight brothers. Why? I don’t know, something in my formative years set my brain to adoring it. And whether it was loyal-to-the-end, but shatteringly imperfect BFF Conner freaking Kirk (!!!), or Ben, Griffin and even heart-breaking ghost boy Seth, I was in Broken Boy heaven.

I’m pretty sure I said this when I finished Stick, but I want to read everything Andrew Smith’s ever written. But then, you know, Other Things came up and distracted me. All I can say is that In The Path of Falling Objects has been added to my latest online shopping cart for when I get that 2 am book buying itch. Oh, and there’s a sequel coming. And I am SO EXCITED that I can only say this in LOLcats-speak. CAN I HAZ SEKUEL NAOW?!


  1. I KNEW YOU WOULD LOVE IT!! Great review! I know you loved STICK too....Andrew is so badass...

  2. Julia @ That Hapa ChickJune 27, 2012 at 2:34 AM

    I actually wasn't a huge fan of this book. It was just SO dark and the otherworldly element was weirdly executed for me. But I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Different strokes for different folks right? :D