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The Marbury Lens Hardcover – November 9, 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Marbury Lens Series

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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.

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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 (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jeannie Mancini VINE VOICE on November 12, 2010
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: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After loving the humor and characterization in Grasshopper Jungle, I had to keep reading Andrew Smith's works. I picked this up with very high expectations, while also knowing it would be different than Grasshopper Jungle. I knew it would be darker, and while I think he did an excellent job portraying a difficult situation, I missed the humor that Grasshopper Jungle mixed with the dark parts. There are some really touching moments as we get to know the two narrators, the sixteen year old Jack who discovers a hidden alternate Earth by putting on glasses, and the ghost, Seth, that he meets on the other side. Both of their stories picture emotional loss. Jack's mom birthed him and abandoned him and he's had trouble bonding emotionally since. He has a best friend, but there is separation when Jack fears his friend could keep him from experiencing the alternate reality he's become addicted to. Seth is an orphan rescued by a family with a girl he falls in love with. He's a ghost, so we know his story doesn't end well, but so worth the read to experience the life he lived. I may have enjoyed his story more than Jack's. Jack falls in love with a girl, but there isn't a whole lot between them as far as time together. Part of the side effects of wearing the glasses is that while he's on the other side, he doesn't remember what he's done on this side, and the first time he met her, he didn't remember. He's sixteen though. I remember falling for a girl that hard and only having spent a weekend with her.

The conflict in this book is an interesting one, but not always one that demanded I read. On our side, I was interested in Jack's happiness, which the story skirts around as possibly requiring him to get rid of the glasses that allow him to see the other side, which is called Marbury.
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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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