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The Marbury Lens Hardcover – November 9, 2010

4 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Marbury Lens Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Product Description

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.

Amazon Exclusive: A Note from Andrew Smith, Author of The Marbury Lens

On a number of levels, The Marbury Lens is an attempt on my part to reconnect with many of the experiences I went through as a teenager.

At that time, I was quite a fan of horror stories. In particular, I think I read every book Stephen King put out as soon as they'd hit the shelves. So, I always wanted to write something that would scare the daylights out of me -- if I could somehow be transported back in time to those years.

More than that, like Jack Whitmore, the narrator of The Marbury Lens, I also went through some tough and terrifying experiences as a teen. So the novel is, in many ways, very personal, which, I think, helps pull readers in to the very dark worlds Jack unwillingly travels through.

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up—What better way to celebrate an adventure to London than with a going-away party? Sounds good until Jack gets drunk and finds himself at the mercy of a crazed stranger who drugs him and holds him hostage. Readers will cheer when Jack frees himself from the certain death that seems to await him at his captor's home. But once he's out of harm's way, readers—like Jack—will begin to think being chained to the bed of a stranger was so much simpler than being on the run from a murder rap and hearing voices in his head. It all gets worse when he finds himself in London looking through some purple-tinted glasses into a parallel world of cannibalism and gore. As Jack grapples with maintaining his sanity, he also struggles with the fact that his best friend and traveling companion, Conner, is a murderous monster in the parallel world of Marbury—a murderous monster that he must face. This title will keep readers enthralled with its well-developed characters and unique plot. The four-letter words come fast and furiously, but they're no stronger than the violent and gruesome situations that befall Jack and Conner. Smith spares no graphic details to depict the horrific world of Marbury. The novel is not an easy read, but it is one that will keep teens hooked and the author leaves plenty of unresolved threads for a possible sequel.—Robbie L. Flowers, Detroit Public Library, MI
(c) Copyright 2011.  Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends; First Edition edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312613423
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312613426
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,036,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Andrew Smith knew ever since his days as editor of his high school newspaper that he wanted to be a writer. After graduating college, he experimented with journalistic careers - writing for newspapers and radio stations - but found it wasn't the kind of writing he'd dreamed about doing.

Born with an impulse to travel, Smith, the son of an immigrant, bounced around the world and from job to job, working at various times in a metals mill, as a longshoreman unloading bananas from Central America and imported autos from Japan, in bars and liquor stores, in security, and as a musician, before settling down permanently in Southern California. Here, he got his first "real job," as a teacher in an alternative educational program for At-Risk teens, married, and moved to a rural mountain location. Throughout his life, Smith continued to write, but never considered seeking publication until challenged into it by lifelong friend, author Kelly Milner Halls.

In 2008, Smith published his first novel, Ghost Medicine, an ALA/YALSA "Best Books for Young Adults." This was followed in 2009 with In the Path of Falling Objects, also a BBYA recipient. The Marbury Lens is Smith's third novel, and will be followed in 2011 by Stick.

Smith prefers the seclusion of his rural setting, where he lives with his wife, 16-year-old son, 13-year-old daughter, two horses, three dogs, three cats, and one irritable lizard named Leo.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Well, this was a whopper. Truly, and honestly, a doozy of a story. Frighteningly realistic, scary, chilling and very riveting. This is a page turner you can't put down until you've reached the end.

17 year old Jack Whitmore, born a bastard on his mother's kitchen floor, grows up with his grandparents since his parents chose to not participate in his rearing. Getting drunk one night at a party with his best friend Conn has Jack hitting the streets to walk off his stupor. Stopping in the local park on his way home, he collapses on a park bench only to be woken the next morning by a man dressed in hospital scrubs asking him if he was ok. This mysterious doctor offers Jack a ride home and foolishly Jack accepts. But Jack is not taken home. Horrible things are done to Jack, things of your worst nightmares. Luckily Jack escapes & heads to Conn's house to tell him what has happened. These two young men then plot, plan, and execute, a brutal revenge.

Putting the horror behind them, Jack and Conn travel to London for a holiday. While alone, Jack is approached by a man who seems to know him, hands him a pair of odd looking purple glasses, then walks away. Not being able to resist such an oddity, Jack puts the glasses on. His world, from that point on, turns upside down, backwards and forwards, and a rollercoaster ride from hell ensues. Through the glasses, there is a post apocalypse world of war that has ravished the land. Murderous gangs of teenagers fight for survival, & savagely fight against each for dominance..and food. This desolate world is called Marbury and when Jack arrives, he becomes part of something terrifying, and abominable. There on the other side, the person out to kill him is his real life friend Conn.
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Format: Hardcover
BEWARE: Possible spoilers within this review . . .

Okaaaaay... How to review "The Marbury Lens"...

I'm going to assume the plot points are covered (more than) adequately in other reviews, so I'm going to skip all that & focus on my thoughts on the book instead.

First of all, I find it extremely difficult to believe anyone older than 10 would find this book frightening -- and I am NOT a big fan of horror, so I'm definitely not a jaded reviewer. I've read other things that I've found shocking, frightening, &/or disturbing -- the first story in Joe Hill's "20th Century Ghosts" springs to mind -- but this didn't even come close to scaring me. I didn't even find it particularly disturbing.

Some of the aspects of Jack's story were well written & compelling -- his kidnapping & his apparent emotional & psychological breakdown afterwards, in particular, rang true -- but Jack was already so damaged at the beginning of the book that sympathizing with him was difficult. For example, after being raised from birth by his apparently loving grandparents, Jack stresses over & over that he has no feelings for them, that the only person he loves is his best friend, Connor. Why? The author gives absolutely no reason for Jack's lack of attachment to these caring people who raised him from infancy & who, seemingly, spoil him rotten.

I also took issue with the way teens are portrayed here -- Jack is 16, his girlfriend Nickie is 17, & the other kids are around the same age. At 16, Jack & Connor travel to England without adult supervision. Nickie & her friend Rachel also seem to come & go as they please, without informing anyone of their whereabouts.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Marbury Lens is a terrific, captivating, dark and yet strangely realistic novel of teenage life and another dimension of reality. Andrew Smith is a wonderful author and he is able to weave together a variety of themes, levels of metaphors and odd people (read also: In the Path of Falling Objects) in such a way that you want to keep reading, to solve the riddle of the characters and their strange encounters. I loved this book, and if there is a sequel, I can't wait to read that one as well.
1 Comment 4 of 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
Oh my, this book scared the bejesus out of me! I thought this would be more of a fantasy, sci-fi type of read and instead I was taken into this maniacal, twisted world that gave me nightmares. I am serious! I still think about this book and I read it over a week ago.

Jack lives in two worlds - he lives in our world and he also lives in Marbury. Just thinking about Marbury brings me chills. Jack who is kidnapped by a sadistic, murdering rapist - and then the visions of Marbury begin. Marbury with its desert-like facade, demons, flesh-eating beetles and dismembered bodies. Marbury which is almost like an addiction for Jack. When he is in the real world (or is it real?) dreams of Marbury and finding his way back there.

There was so much going through my mind when I read this. Where the heck did this Marbury stem from? Was it something like The Matrix, was Jack dead, was he hallucinating or high? This book made me paranoid and it was just a hot mess. But I still found myself riveted to its pages. The premise and its cover were what originally captured my attention but once I actually started reading it - Mr. Smith's writing, Jack and his terrible ordeal, Marbury itself - were just so disturbing that I could not put it down. (I'm a masochist, I know).

I have never read anything like this book before. It was truly disturbing - and I say that in a good way! It was unpredictable, action-packed and just plain Awesome!

I do have to forewarn though, this is a very dark book and although it is geared for young adults - I'd recommend it for an older crowd (as within its pages you will find profanity (and lots of it), an attempted rape, dismembered corpses and even cannibalism). I'm just saying.
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