Read The Marbury Lens by AndrewSmith Online


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 murdeSixteen-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....

Title : The Marbury Lens
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780312613426
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 358 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Marbury Lens Reviews

  • Flannery
    2019-01-19 14:43

    Alright, I'm gonna give it to you straight--I've spent 20 years of my life in school. TWENTY. The number of amazing reviews of this book on Goodreads makes me feel like maybe I am too stupid to understand why this book is "so awesome."Baby Ruth?Maybe the awesomeness was lost in the translation to audiobook? I really don't think so though. So, we start out with Jack--a California high schooler. Jack and his best friend Conner spend the entire book being teenage boys to the max. I was listening to this in the car one day on my way to class and there is reverse cowgirl sex on the first CD. I guess kids are crazier now than they were when I was in high school--man, we thought we were rebels drinking in the woods for chrissakes. Also, they spend the entire book calling each other gay. (Dude, you are so gay) There was also a classic incident where I was listening to this while washing the dishes and my dad came in as the book went something like this: (view spoiler)[ Fucking FUCK FUCKING STUPID FUCK, Jack, WHAT THE FUCK (hide spoiler)] Not kidding. My dad was like, "what the hell is this?" Ummm, a "young adult" book? *shrug*I would address the plot of this book it really doesn't lend itself to a rehash. It starts out as a kidnapping/pedophilia storyline, goes to a bromance jaunt to London, switches to a quasi-fantasy wherein Jack deals with his trauma by escaping to a world through magic glasses, and ends up with ghosts, cannibalism, a really serious relationship*, and a WTF ending. Am I making you want to read this yet?A lot of people seem to root their reviews in how great it is that Andrew Smith dealt with such horrific topics. Ugh. Okay, I was totally with him for the first third or so of the book but he lost me. I'm gone. Every once in awhile, I wished I had my Kindle or a pen and paper so I could write down memorable quotations. Two things I remember distinctly enjoying were the metaphor of people as Matroyshka nesting dolls and of "mind the gap" being used as an expression to warn people of the dangers of transition in life, not just in getting on and off the underground. I always feel like I am being a total a-hole in reviews if I didn't really enjoy a book. This book is NOT bad--I'm sure some of my GR friends might like it...I'm giving this 2.75 stars.*If you are starting a new relationship and the other person starts bringing up super serious issues and lets on that they are a psychiatric mess, like the same week you meet them, would you take care of them and really work at it? Neither would I. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Shannon
    2018-12-22 16:24

    Meh. It wasn't that bad, it wasn't that good; it was barely middling. A unique and fascinating concept that got bogged down by constant repetition, an ending that sputtered, and completely unimaginative homophobia. I was originally drawn to this title because of how disturbing I heard it was; inappropriate for young adults, gruesome and gory, disgusting. Unfortunately, it wasn't all that bad. True, there were some parts that were a bit gross, mostly all the puking the hero does, but really, it's no worse than what you can find if you watch any horror movie. If I was a teenager still, this is the type of book I would probably pick up, but now, if I was a librarian or bookseller, this isn't something I would hand to a 12-year-old to read. A story that contains cut-off genitalia and mutilated corpses is not something I would blindly recommend, even to an adult. With that being said though, I personally have read worse in terms of gore.The author has obvious issues with both nudity and sexuality, and I think to a less mature mind these ideas could be damaging, more so than the violence. The constant homophobic comments by Jack's friend are ridiculous, immature, and offensive. Jack almost gets raped by a guy in the beginning of the book, and then he gets molested by another guy on a plane, and throughout the whole book we're beaten over the head with "being gay is bad." This is, to me, the most disgusting part of this whole book. And then, just about every character spends some part of the book naked as well, and I'm not entirely sure why. Plus Jack's friend constantly ribs him for being a virgin, and then they both have copious amount of sex with girls whom they've just met and confess to "love." There's also a side story with a completely different character who gets hanged after he has sex with the girl he loves. I was just ... astounded by all of this. Every single instance of sex in this book has issues, and there's absolutely nothing healthy about any of it.Jack is not a character you can like easily; he's kind of a dick. He has people who love him, yet he pushes them away and acts like a tool most of the time, even before the whole kidnapping thing. His best friend, Connor, tries to help him, but by the time he gets there it's already too late. Jack's two buddies in Marbury were slightly more likable, but I still didn't think I spent enough time with them to really get attached. The girls who were introduced were throwaway characters; they could have been hit by a bus and I wouldn't have cared. Seth's story was heartbreaking, and the one I enjoyed the most, even though it was so short. And Henry ... was Henry even real? I have no idea.As for the plot, here's the short version: Boy gets drunk, gets kidnapped and molested but escapes, boy travels abroad and meets weird guy who gives him strange glasses that allow him to travel to an alternate hell dimension, boy's friend joins him abroad and calls him "gay" 587 times, boy and friend meet girls whom they have sexual relations with, boy's mental state slowly declines, hilarity ensues.The opening shows us a terrifying glimpse of what can happen when you trust the wrong person. Jack's slow decline into madness after his kidnapping and subsequent use of the glasses could have been used as an allegory for drug use - depression - ptsd - or what have you, but the author never took it that far. He kept taking it just to the point where it could be really meaningful, and then he'd pull back and ruin the moment. This book could have been so much more than it was, and in the end I was just left disappointed. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.

  • Brigid ✩ Cool Ninja Sharpshooter ✩
    2019-01-18 18:38

    MY BRAIN! MY POOR BRAIN!Okay, this is basically me reading this book:Except, that's not actually me in that picture. And I read this in an overheating car on a long car trip, squashed between two of my sisters. So I had no desk to *headdesk* with. I only had the book itself. Which made my family very concerned. My sister kept being like, "Uh, is that book really that bad?"And I'm like, "NO! NO ... IT'S GOOD. IT'S JUST ... AAAAHHHH!"If you've read it, you know what I mean.Now, I found this book very hard to digest. When I finished reading it, I felt as if I'd been hit by a train. I'd never seen it coming and then ... I had no idea what had just happened. And my brain had exploded into little pieces.At first, I didn't know how I felt about it. I definitely liked it, I just couldn't for the life of me figure out why. I initially gave it 4 stars, but after thinking about it for a few days, I'm giving it 5––even though it'd probably be more like a 4.5 for me. But, you get the idea. This book is good.SO WHAT'S THIS BOOK ABOUT, YOU ASK? I'll attempt to tell you without spoilers.Well, it's about a boy named Jack who gets drunk one night, wanders out into the street, and gets kidnapped by a creeper named Freddie Horvath. Freddie tortures and attempts to rape Jack, but Jack narrowly escapes. The next night, Jack and his friend Conner commit a horrible crime. Soon afterward, they go off on a trip to England and try to pretend it never happened. But as soon as he arrives in England, Jack meets a mysterious stranger who hands him a pair of glasses––glasses which transport him to a horrific, post-apocalyptic world called Marbury, where he is responsible for keeping two younger boys alive. Conner can also go to Marbury. But in this alternate universe, the two best friends find that they are caught in a war––and that they're on opposite sides.This book is fantasy realism at its finest. I know it's not a genre that appeals to everyone, but personally I love books that confuse the crap out of me––as long as they do it in an interesting way. This book forces the reader to question reality. What's real? What isn't? Does it matter? What does it mean?One thing is for certain: this book is one hell of a ride. As perplexing as it is, it's very exciting. It's hard to put down and dangerously addictive. As Jack and Conner become increasingly addicted to Marbury, you'll find yourself just as caught in Marbury's terrifying clutches.The emotions in this book are very strong and believable. I could feel everything Jack was feeling––guilt, insecurity, paranoia, terror, insanity ... I actually felt as if I were living this story, and DANG was it the most scary-ass feeling. Even thinking about it, I'm tempted to look under my couch to make sure nothing's hiding under there. I've also become terrified of my glasses. And mind you, I typically hate horror. But I didn't think this was just a horror story, despite all the graphic imagery it contained. Sure, it was horrific, but it's a psychological thriller as well. I can't stop thinking about it. The main question is, What is Marbury?I think that's something for every reader to decide for himself, because I don't think there's a concrete answer.Personally, I thought Marbury was a place to find redemption. After all, everyone in Marbury had a counterpart living in the real world. But the reverse was not true; that is, not everyone in the real world has a counterpart in Marbury. This leads me to believe that people who commit crimes have a counterpart in Marbury. In Marbury, Jack and Conner both seem to be in situations where they have to find a purpose and decide what's they have to do for the greater good. Jack, Conner, and Seth (a ghost who lives in Marbury, who is also an important part of the story) all certainly seemed to have done something they regretted. Of course, what I liked about this book is that it's all open to interpretation. That said, there were some aspects that were a little too open-ended. There were things that could have been fleshed out a bit more––like if Freddie had any kind of motivation to kidnap Jack (besides being a creeper), and how that mysterious dude knew how to find Jack and to give him the glasses. I also thought Jack's companions in Marbury (besides Seth) could have been fleshed out a bit more. Another thing that has kept me thinking ... I saw a lot of reviews for this book bashing it for being homophobic. Jack does happen to be molested by two men––but I didn't think that was meant to be a stereotype. It was to add to the atmosphere of paranoia, to show how Jack felt he could not escape from what Freddie had done to him. Also, Jack and Conner toss the word "gay" around rather carelessly, as most teenage boys do.However, I didn't interpret this as discriminatory. In fact, throughout the book, I thought Jack and Conner were gay. They certainly seemed abnormally desperate to have sex and "prove" that they were straight. They also seemed to have quite a close and intense relationship in which they kept saying they loved each other ... "BUT OH NO, NOT IN A GAY WAY!" At the beginning, Conner even indirectly invited Jack to have sex with him––in a threesome, but still. Since homosexuality seemed to be a running theme throughout the whole book, I definitely think it was there for a reason. And the feelings of denial experienced by Jack and Conner are very realistic. Over all, this is quite a thought-provoking read. This is one of the books unfairly bashed by Wall Street Journal journalist Meghan Cox Gurdon, in her article "Darkness Too Visible." I'm not going to disagree with Gurdon that this book is dark. It is. This book is full of language, sex, and horribly graphic images. It's not for the faint-hearted. But while Gurdon implies that darkness in YA literature promotes violence and depression, I felt that in the end, this book was actually about hope. It's about dealing with the horrors of trauma. It's about paranoia and addiction and fear, but it's also about facing all of these things and finding a way through them. I've heard that this book was based on something personal to Andrew Smith; I don't know the details, but I could tell he certainly knew what he was writing about. Poor guy.I think he needs something adorable to look at. And after reading this, so do I.OMG LOOK A RED PANDA. SO CUTE AND HAPPY.

  • Lea
    2018-12-23 16:29

    NOTE: I don't know how to hide "spoiler" reviews, & I'm not really sure this qualifies anyway, but be warned -- this MAY contain stuff you'd rather not know if you haven't read the book yet. 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. (Although, at the end of the book, Nickie can't stay with Jack on his last night in England because she said her parents would be angry because she'd stayed out the night before -- after she'd spent a week or so off with her girlfriend, & the two boys, alone?!)There are also numerous references to Jack being gay, while he clearly identifies himself as straight. Don't take that the wrong way -- it's irrelevant to me if the character is gay or straight, but the references in the book seemed derogatory to me, especially when there is Jack's near rape by his kidnapper, as well as a man who attempts to fondle Jack on a plane after misconstruing his relationship with Connor. What is the author's point? Gay = predator? Men can't be close without there being a homosexual element to the relationship? I don't get it, whatever it is, & I think 2011 is well past time for relying on these stereotypes. There is a lot of swearing -- doesn't bother me, it's just words -- plenty of sex, which I think might warrant a discussion if my younger teen read this, and waaaaay too much drinking. (In fact, alcohol plays a very big part in setting into motion Jack's downward spiral.)In general, I find Jack confusing & disappointing. He seems troubled at the outset, like he fully accepts his kidnapping as (deserved) punishment, but it's never made clear why he believes he deserves this fate. I think I would have LOVED this book if we had found out at the end that it had all been in Jack's mind -- that he was still being held captive, or that it was all delusions caused by the stress of surviving the kidnapping & the events immediately following. (Does anyone remember the Onion "article" where the little boy tells of his rescue from a predator, only to realize he'd only been dreaming about being rescued -- honestly chilling, which is the exact effect it would have had in this case, too.)Another interesting option would have been using Jack's compulsion to be in Marbury as an allegory for addiction -- I kept expecting the book to follow that direction, but it stubbornly stuck to the "Marbury is real" route. I don't have much to say about Marbury itself -- I didn't find that part of the story all that original or interesting, although, to be fair, I did just recently read "The Passage" & "The Road", both of which do the whole post-apocalypse-surviving-attack-by-monsters/cannibals thing soooooo much better. In fact, come to think of it, I would recommend either of those if that's the type of story you want to read. I can really only recommend this if you're looking for a very open-ended YA book illustrating the dangers of drugs &/ or alcohol. All in all, I think there were so many really provocative directions this story could have taken, but -- IMO -- the author chose the most mundane & least interesting option.

  • Ariel
    2019-01-10 19:24

    Well this book was just a complete train-wreck. Honestly: OUCHIE WOWCHI.I had loads of problems with the book but here are the top three:1) The plot was POINTLESS. It had no direction of any kind.. I never knew what we were trying to accomplish and it made me feel disconnected to the story and perpetually bored.2) The writing was all over the place! We had third person, first person, random characters, too too too much repetition, over the top vulgarity and gore for no reason, plot holes, soooo many plot holes. It was just such a pile of bad.3) No real redeeming qualities. I was thinking "This friendship is kind of nice! This side story is interesting! The very beginning was good!" But really, when I talked it over with Raeleen (whom I read this with) we realized that those parts only seemed good in comparison to the other nonsense.. That really, when compared to other books it just isn't good enough. It just isn't good.I am sorely disappointed. I had extremely high hopes for this book, I was really excited for it, and it let me down.

  • Megan
    2018-12-23 14:29

    I finished The Marbury Lens so very long ago, and now I am afraid that a review written weeks after having initially read the book simply won't do it justice. Let's see...Admittedly, I was turned off from The Marbury Lens simply because the premise sounds so implausible. Jack, a California teenager spends a few weeks of his summer vacation in London with his best friend. The first few days Jack is on his own and is pursued by a stranger who gives him a pair of magical purple glasses. When Jack puts them on, he is transported to a (mythical? parallel? made up?) post-apocalyptic world called Marbury. In Marbury, Jack has a very different existence, personality and friends... or does he? One of my all time favorite subjects to be approached in novels is the fine line between mental health and magical realism, fantasy, what-have-you. I believe The Marbury Lens does just that so very, very well. This story isn't just about Marbury or the mystery behind it. Rather, it is about Jack being a hot mess. (And how refreshing is it to encounter a male protag dealing with issues. No whining angst-ridden chicks in this story!)But back to Jack... this kid has some problems. Personal problems. Family problems. Sexual problems. And these are in addition to the obvious big ball of issues brought on by Jack's abduction and near rape. (So not a spoiler, happens early on in the novel) So, we see a kid who is dealing with some serious issues, in addition to the growing pains all kids deal with their teenage years, and suddenly he is also dealing with Marbury. Is it real? A figment of his imagination? I love the ambiguity in this novel. And I love that Andrew Smith managed to present a fantasy world that seems to be remarkably in depth and well thought out, even though very little of it is actually explained. Can I say that I didn't find this novel to be nearly as gross or disturbing as some people have mentioned. Nor was I appalled by the "homophobia" displayed. Connor's (Jack's best friend) frequent teasing of Jack by calling him, "so gay!" didn't strike me as, well... wrong. Politically incorrect? Of course. As a girl who was raised with brothers in the heart of the midwest... a lot of guys talk like that around each other. At least my brothers & friends' brothers did when they were growing up. As much as I love the suave and mysterious boy portrayed in so many YA novels, this is one of the few novels I've read in which the boys seem like real life teenage boys... rather than an idealized version. At any rate, I can't say enough how much I loved this novel and the questions, ideas, and issues raised in it. It is difficult to say too much without spoiling it, but I do hope that more of my GR friends pick this one up so I can read their reactions :) And I sincerely hope that Andrew Smith writes more novels with a fantasy twist to them.

  • John Egbert
    2019-01-05 15:36

    Short version: This, this, and also, this.Long version:Okay, contrary to popular belief, this book isn't very graphic. Personally, I've been scarred worse that time I accidentally came across some Richie Foley/Virgil Hawkins fanart. Or that time I decided I wanted to know what a manikini was...(FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON'T GOOGLE THAT!)Moving on, yeah, I thought that it was going to be terrible and horrible. I expected to run screaming away in pure horror. In reality, The Marbury Lens is, in all actuality, less graphic than any other YA book I can think of, or even The Color Purple which is a book most people have to read for school.Maybe this is because I have a thick skin. I don't know. But I do know I wasn't impressed. Sure, sure, you're probably thinking "She's got to be shitting me. THE MAIN CHARACTER IS KIDNAPPED, ALMOST RAPED TWICE AND SHE ISN'T PHASED? Yep, sociopath." But I'm not a sociopath. Really. It's just that it isn't as bad as people say.As for the book itself, the whole thing was a big fat MEH. Basically, it's sort of like Narnia only you have these goggles instead of a wardrobe. Also, for every person in what I'll call the real world, there is a counterpart to them in Marbury land, which is the place you see once you put on the glasses.Another thing, apparently the glasses are really addictive, so you don't want to come back to the real world. Well, you do, but you want to go back to Marbury land after you come back to the real world. It's really confusing. If you think you're confused right now, imagine how I felt reading the thing.To be frank, I just didn't care. Marbury land was boring to me. I just skimmed and ended up skipping the chapters with Marbury in it, and that ended up with me putting down the book. How can the fantasy world your book is about be so goddamn boring? I don't understand that.I did like Jack, though. Poor kid was a target for danger. First, in the beginning of the book, he wanders away from an underage drinking party and gets kidnapped and nearly raped. Then, while on the plane to England he gets molested by some creep sitting next to him. THEN, he gets stalked by some weirdo who gives him glasses that shape his worst nightmare. Kid can't catch a break, for god's sake.Between Jack and his friend, Conner, there seemed to be a lot of pent up sexual tension that the author seemed to acknowledge and tried to halfway relieve by making jokes about it. "We're sharing a bedroom. THAT'S SO GAY!" "We're sharing a bed. THAT'S SO GAY!" "The room is so small we have to shower with the door open. THAT'S SO GAY!" "Jack's never had sex with a girl before. THAT'S SO GAY!" I would have thrown the book across the room if it hadn't been for the fact that I as reading the thing on a pdf, and throwing my computer across the room to relieve my stress seemed counterproductive at the time.It might seem abrupt to end the review here, but I can't think of anything else that was in my mind while reading the book. So, farewell my darlings. Thank you for your time.

  • Brian James
    2019-01-15 18:30

    As teen literature continues to be a huge and growing field of publishing, the more mainstream its novels become. When I published my first novel Pure Sunshine, the genre was basically a dead genre. The books that started the new boom were adventurous, daring, and edgy wasn't just a marketing term. There was a sense to push the boundaries of what was considered acceptable in YA fiction. However, once the genre became an established outlet for bestsellers, there was a reverse pull back to more traditional fiction...more fantasy, flat problem novels, and updated Sweet Valley High books disguised as Chiklet Lit. Hats off to Andrew Smith for not standing for it and pushing back.The Marbury Lens in an unflinching look at good and evil that not only exists in the world, but also within each of us. Its uncompromising vision of Hell is some of the best post-apocalyptic imagery I've ever encountered. However, it's brutality is not the kind of gore porn we see so often on screen, in this book it's there for a reason and compels and challenges the reader to think, propelling them out of their comfort zone. Another aspect that I love about this novel is that it remains somewhat open-ended in the conclusions one draws. I know from first-hand experience to responses from my own writing, that some readers don't appreciate this aspect in a book. But I've always felt this to be one of the great things that makes YA Lit what it is. As a teenager, one encounters in order to develop their own ideas. A great YA author doesn't dictate to them, but presents them with a vision and allows them to experience it in their own way. This is the type of book that YA needs to produce in order to avoid the same fate suffered in the '90s and remain inclusive of teen readers who don't want to read vampire romance.

  • Penny
    2019-01-09 19:40

    This was a difficult book for me to read. It deals with a lot of hard-hitting issues. Issues which are seldom, if ever, addressed in YA fiction. At times it made me quite uncomfortable. But I continued reading because it was the sort of book one can't easily put down--I knew I'd never forgive myself if I didn't finish it. The Marbury Lens drew me in and spit me out, and I liked it--the entire frightening journey. I liked it. Unfortunately I cannot give this book four or five stars, like many others have. At best I can give this book three and a half stars. Yes, The Marbury Lens is quite good, but I didn't 'really like it', nor did I think it was amazing, despite the fact that Smith's Marbury Lens crosses over into--as far as I know--uncharted territory in YA fiction. There are parts of this book which are genuinely amazing, but overall I just like this book, nothing more. I admire Andrew Smith for daring to go where so many authors have not. It is a bold move on his part, and I truly do admire him for making it. I hope this book's success inspires other authors and other publishers to consider writing/publishing books that delve into this territory some more. Also, the whole 'bro-mance' angle is quite intriguing. Hoping to read more bro-mances in the future.

  • Jen Bigheart (I Read Banned Books)
    2019-01-13 13:29

    I don't think I've read another book similar to The Marbury Lens. It was truly disturbing - in a fantastic way! I wasn't able to predict a single moment. Awesome!UPDATE: November 4th, 2010This review will be a little unconventional. I went back and read my original review on Good Reads and thought, "What" That's it? Lame" So here I am trying to write a longer review. Problem? Words come to mind - easily come to mind, but they don't seem to want to form complete sentences. Instead of fighting it (and sitting here all night struggling), my review will be a list of words that come to mind when I think of.... The Marbury Lens. *insert Twilight Zone music*creepyunsettlinggorydisturbingoriginalsuspensefulsickunpredictabledarkheavytwistedgraysufferingcontrolfascinatingmysterioushorrificthicksadisticnightmarishfreakyscaryamazingmorbidnumbGet my point? It's a book that you won't be able to put down. When I did, my mind would race and try to think of what was going to happen next. I shouldn't have wasted my time....I couldn't predict a thing! This story stuck with me for days. I literally felt like I needed to take a shower. The Marbury Lens was beyond twisted. If you can't tell by now, I loved it! I can't even compare it to another book. It was absolutely disturbing in a fantastic way! I hope this book reels some older boys who "hate" to read. I hope this book will find it's way to you too.Want to read an interview with the brilliant Andrew Smith? Want to win a brand new, SIGNED, hardcover copy? Head over to zee blog. (

  • Michelle
    2019-01-08 18:43

    This book is not for me. I read the whole thing, hoping it would get better, or that there would be a single part of the book I enjoyed, but neither of those things happened. I didn't like any of the characters. I could understand Jack being messed up after his encounter with Freddie, but honestly, Jack was a whiny bitch from the beginning. His best friend, Connor, is a complete asshole, and it seems like the only thing he does for half the book is call Jack gay because he's a virgin, or because they fell asleep next to each other on a bed. Or because Jack won't join in on the sex Connor is having with his girlfriend (what the? Is it normal for guys who are best friends to participate in a threesome together?). The way it was written, like it was a bad thing, an accusation, an insult, "you're so gay!", made the whole thing seem very homophobic. I know a lot of other readers have mentioned it in their reviews, but it's worth mentioning again because it really distracted me from the story itself. Which, by the way, I didn't care for either. Life for Jack and Connor in London consisted of beer and two girls (who were, of course, the hottest chicks in the world, duh) that they met and fell in love with three days later. It was boring, but I was okay with that because life in Marbury was supposed to be where all the excitement as action was. Much to my disappointment, Jack's adventures in Marbury were just as boring as his adventures in London. Sure, Marbury had an alternate version of everyone in the real world and giant ghost-eating bugs, but even that wasn't enough to make it a mildly interesting place. Nope. Nope, nope, nope. Not for me.

  • Evie
    2019-01-06 15:18

    Sweepingly imaginative, boldly visionary and entirely compelling, The Marbury Lens is a book like no other out there. I've been sitting here, trying to figure out what other work of fiction I could compare it to, hoping to give you an idea of what you should be prepared for. But trying to draw parallels proved to be an exercise in futility. There's not a single book (or movie) out there that would be similar in concept. Or as impressive in execution. The Marbury Lens is a wholly original, untameable beast. And there is no preparing yourself for it. You dive in head first, hold your breath and pray to make it out with your soul and sanity intact. And good luck. You'll need it. So the Marbury lens is a kind of prism, an elevator car maybe, that separate the layers and lets me see the Jack who's in the next hole made by the arrow. And that hole is Marbury. To celebrate their upcoming trip to England, Jack and his best friend, Conner, throw a going-away party at Conner's place. Jack gets hammered and he ends up taking a walk back home. He never makes it there. He falls to sleep on a bench in a park and is woken up by a seemingly trustworthy doctor who offers to give him a lift back home. Jack's decision to get in the car with Freddie Horvath will change his life forever, triggering a chain of terrifying events that will have him desperate, scared and lost. And that's only the beginning. When he finally arrives in England, a weird-looking guy hands him a pair of glasses, insisting that they belong to him. Driven by curiosity, Jack puts them on and he is instantly transported to a different world. A world called Marbury, a vicious, desolate place where forces of good and evil are locked in a never-ending, multidimensional conflict.Hey, Nickie, did I tell you about how I got kidnapped by this sick guy named Freddie Horvath? And how he shot me up with drugs and shocked me, and I thought I was going to die? And, oh yeah, he tried to rape me, too?But I got away from him.YOU DIDN'T GET AWAY FROM ANYTHING, JACK.Freddie Horvath did something to my brain.And then me and my best friend, Conner, killed him. It was an accident, but we fucking killed him, just the same. Did I tell you that, Nickie? Or, did I tell you about how I can't even remember anything about meeting you today because I hallucinated some crazy shit about people getting hacked into pieces and eaten by bugs? Or how I got shot through my side with an arrow?Did I tell you about that, Nickie?Because I do remember that. The look at Jack's psyche is utterly terrifying. Everything that happens to him, everything he goes through, every struggle he faces - both internal and external alike - is painfully and mind-numbingly real. You live through all the experiences with him, you taste his fear, anger and disgust, you close your fists, gasp for breath and look around suspiciously. Smith's writing is so convincing, so overpowering, you almost hear the roll.. tap, tap, tap as you read and it thoroughly freaks you out. Now, I don't know about you, but when I read, I get completely lost in the story. And this story here made it all too easy for me to get lost in it, to the point I had trouble finding my way back. From the powerful and furiously disturbing beginning to the semi-positive, partially inconclusive ending - I was paralysed by the intensity of this book. Smith's prose evokes many emotions, from fear to almost physical pain and sadness. I was especially affected by the first few chapters. The way the author described everything that happened to Jack during the short period of time when he was held captive by the sick-o kidnapper made my skin crawl. It was gut-wrenching, disquieting and awful. And knowing that - like Jack Withmore - the author also lived through some truly terrifying experiences as a teen (including being kidnapped), made it that much harder for me to stomach the opening passages of the story. I know this is going to sound insane, and I'm sorry for it, but a part of me wanted to go back to Freddie's house. Like there was something I'd left behind that I could only have if I went back to that room and went back to my place on that bed.Like I belonged there.Like I deserved it.I sat there until it was too dark for me to see the sick, undressed, and dirty kid in my goddamned mirror.It was the first time in my life I wanted to kill myself.Jack is a truly complex character. He's not easy to like (nor does he give a shit if you like him or not), but he grows on you as the story progresses. He seems pretty tough on the outside and is capable of pushing himself to new limits, but he's also riddled with anxiety and very fragile on the inside (both emotionally and psychologically). As he struggles to make sense of what is happening to him, he begins to question his own sanity. Is the world of Marbury real? Or did he lose his mind? Did he really get away or is he still strapped to the bed in the madman's house? Jack isn't sure and therefore we can never be sure either. I was thinking, What if the world was like that? What if we only saw one surface of it, the outside, but there was all kinds of other stuff going on, too? All the time. Underneath. But we just don't see it, even if we're part of it? Even if we're in it? And what if you had a chance to see a different layer, like flipping a channel or something? Would you want to look? Even if what you saw looked like hell? Or worse?While this book is not for everyone -- those who are bothered by scenes of graphic violence, coarse language and unanswered questions shouldn't bother -- any reader with taste for macabre and intellectual challenges will appreciate it. If you're expecting cheap thrills, linear action-sequences and ridiculously cheesy (but somewhat heart warming) happy endings, you will be let down. This book is not about conquering evil villains, saving damsels in distress and riding off into the sunset. It's about pain, fear and desperation. It's about having your safety and sanity brutally ripped away from you. It's about a traumatic life-changing experience, and the chaos that follows. Self-blame, shame, weakness, falling apart and losing your mind. At the same time, it's also about the healing power of human relationships. About friendship, sacrifice and perseverance. It's about doing the right thing, no matter how dangerous it is or how bad it hurts. The Marbury Lens is about many things -- all of them utterly compelling and profoundly affecting. Sometimes, okay, a lot of times, I'd stare at that spot on the floor - Stella drew imaginary circles around it with her fingers whenever she'd retell the story - and I'd wish that Amy had been standing at the top of a ladder or something so Little Jack would have hit his head just hard enough that he'd never know any world could ever exist outside of the lukewarm nothing of the amnesiac womb. To say that this book is dark and unsettling would be a huge understatement. I have never read another YA-categorized novel that would be as disturbing and overwhelmingly dark as The Marbury Lens. Quite frankly there was nothing YA about this story (other than the fact that the main characters are teenagers). Reading it - while fascinating and breathtaking - is not a pleasant experience. It makes you feel like you're drowning. And this feeling doesn't go away after you turn the last page. It stays to haunt you. Days after I finished this book, I was still thinking about it, reeling from it. It's not a book for the faint of heart, but fans of fantasy noir, disturbing (and meaningful) themes and visually stunning mind-benders will love it. Beware, though. The darkness in this book might consume you. Are you brave enough to read it?

  • Lauren Stoolfire
    2019-01-08 14:36

    After Jack's kidnapping and narrow escape, the only person he tells about it is his best friend, Conner. The the two friends head off to London for summer vacation to tour a school, when a mysterious man hands him a strange pair of glasses through which he can see another world called Marbury. Marbury is a desolate and grim world at war, and the version of Jack that seems to live there is in charge of the survival of two younger boys. Conner is there in Marbury, but he's on the opposing side and is trying to kill Jack. In the real world, Jack doesn't know what to or if he's hallucinating Marbury. As much as Conner tells him that everything will be okay, Jack knows it won't be.The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith is my fifth book by Smith, who has quickly become a favorite. This book is my third (of five) read for YALSA's Backlist Bingo Reading Challenge and it fulfills the option for Amazing Audiobook from any year. I was absolutely enthralled right from the get-go on this audiobook. The audiobook production is fairly spare, but the narrator totally captures the dark and grim world of Marbury that Jack finds himself spending more and more time in. As for the cast of characters, Jack and Conner, regardless of what they find themselves going through, manage to sound and act like very real teen boys. I'm pretty sure I knew very similar people when I was actually in school. I also particularly enjoyed the little bit of romance Jack has with Nickie. Their budding romance is quite sweet all things considered. In regards to Marbury itself, the world is fascinating and, of course, quite a distressing post-apocalyptic place that is something like an alternate dimension. I couldn't help but think of Mad Max or The Road while Jack was in Marbury. In the end, I wish that more of my questions regarding Marbury had been answered. Either way, I think that means that I'll have to come back for the sequel. Overall, The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith is definitely worth reading despite just how much different it is from the rest of his works - it's important to note that this doesn't have the sense of humor of Grasshopper Jungle or Winger. For lack of a better work, it's down right freaky, but utterly riveting. It will have you turning those pages, or keeping those earbuds in your earholes for as long as you can stand, and wanting more all the way to the very end. I'm looking forward to the sequel, Passenger.

  • Crowinator
    2019-01-21 17:16

    Actual rating: 3.5 stars. Gut reactions upon finishing: Stars added for killer pacing and writing, an absorbing multi-layered puzzle of worlds within worlds, nightmarish world-building, and an authentic friendship between two regular guys who talk like regular guys. Stars subtracted for possibly the least believe girl character ever (yes, Nickie, I mean you -- you just weren't developed enough as your own person), repetitiveness, and frustrating lack of closure. I usually like ambiguity to an ending, but this wasn't even an ending; it just stopped and left too much up in the air without the assurance that any of it was going to come back down within reach. (Oh my God, I never thought I would ever say something like that.) Knowing a sequel is on the horizon helps, and I will definitely be grabbing it as soon as I can, because it sounds even more surreal and disturbing. Longer review later.

  • Smash
    2019-01-14 12:37

    Courtesy of Smash Attack Reads"I was thinking. What if the world was like one of those Russian nesting dolls? What if we only saw one surface of it, the outside, but there was all kinds of other stuff going on, too? All the time. Underneath. But we just don't see it, even if we're part of it? Even if we're in it? And what if you had a chance to see a different layer, like flipping a channel or something? Would you want to look? Even if what you saw looked like hell? Or worse?"MY THOUGHTSCursing below. Beware.In the beginning of this novel, Jack attends a party at his best friend, Conner’s house. Parents are out of town so mayhem is sure to follow. Jack stumbles, drunk, into Conner’s bedroom, where he is being pleasured by a lady friend. Conner’s such a nice friend that he invites Jack to the private party, but Jack ain’t having it. He finds his way to the street, and eventually wakes up on a park bench. A nice man offers help, and as our parents have dutifully pounded into our brains, Jack should not have talked to this stranger.Jack finds himself in a very serious situation. He’s been kidnapped by one Freddie Horvath, whose idea of a fun time is the stuff of nightmares. Jack narrowly escapes this maniac, only to find himself still stuck in his own personal hell. Jack confides in Conner, who swears to help Jack get revenge. One more tragedy later, and Jack arrives in London, where he will be attending school a la study abroad. Jack is paranoid and cannot seem to keep a firm grip on reality. One night he ends up in a bar and meets Henry Hewitt, who tells Jack a very confusing message and disappears. Henry doesn’t leave Jack empty handed, however. On the table is a pair of glasses, which eventually lead Jack to Marbury. And now the fun begins. Or should I say, the chaos ensues.I refuse to go into details about Marbury. It is a place that you must discover on your own in order to really appreciate the post-apocalyptic, maniacal, twisted, horrific landscape. As Jack visits Marbury time and time again, you see his sanity slowly unravel like a tattered old blanket. It’s surreal and creepy as hell. And as the reader, you are left wondering if your sanity is in tact, as well. Jack has endured trauma, and for those unaware, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is very real. The intensity of the trauma is not what is important. It’s how the person perceives the trauma that is the deciding factor for the mind to say “Hasta La Vista, Baby.” One of the main symptoms of PTSD is reliving the event. Does Jack do this? Yes, in his recurring distressing memories about Freddie among other hallucinations. He’s emotionally numb, feels completely detached from reality, has no interest in life, and has difficulty sleeping. More importantly, after visiting Marbury, he ‘comes to’ with gaps in his memory. I’m talking days, people. And his addiction for Marbury is insatiable.I really enjoyed the friendship Jack and Conner shared, and throughout the book you really felt how much love, dedication and loyalty existed between them. Conner never faltered in his friendship and stood by Jack through his dark times. One thing that did irk me, however, was the ugly homophobic undertones of the book. For one, Conner constantly harassed Jack about his disinterest in girls, when Jack made it pretty clear that he’s heterosexual. I get that some heterosexual men tease their friends about being “gay.” I don’t find it funny but homophobia is one of those ugly issues prevalent in society. Conner seems to go a bit over the top on this topic, however, and it gets to a point where I really wish Jack would’ve either decked him in the face or kissed him, just to get him to shut the fuck up about it. The constant bombardment of homophobia felt a tad distasteful.I got way more than I bargained for when I picked up this book. It is definitely a challenging read, and one I won’t soon forget. This psychological thriller fantasy is a lot to take in, and I really admire Smith for dishing out the ugly parts of life (violence, kidnapping, rape, mental health, etc.). There’s a ton of cursing. The story is dark, gritty, intense, creepy, violent, offensive and might make you a bit ill. The writing is very disjointed, but it only added to the mindfuck of a book that is The Marbury Lens.In the end, the real question is: Has Jack slipped into the deepest, darkest part of his psyche, or Is Marbury really real? We are given various tips along the way, but to be honest, I haven’t a damn clue. I won’t spoil, but to me, the ending made this deranged journey stick with you that much more. All I know is that when I closed the book and left Jack’s world, I had to take a moment to get my bearings and ensure I, too, wasn’t wearing a pair of magical spectacles. To me, that is great writing.Recommended for: Those up for a challenge, as this book will have you questioning reality and will haunt you for some time. NOT for the faint of heart, and parents should read it first and decide their teen’s maturity levelFAVORITE SCENE“Anyway, I think we should activate Plan J as soon as the lights go out tonight.”“Okay,” I said, knowing it was going to be something entirely ridiculous. “What’s Plan J?”Conner smiled wickedly. “About five minutes after we say good night to them and it’s all dark and quiet, I’ll yell at you, ‘Jesus Christ, Jack! It' is totally inappropriate for you to be jerking off right now with these girls in the room!’ And so the girls will, like, feel sorry for the pathetic and horny American virgin I have to sleep with, and they’ll offer to switch bedmates so they can give us both some righteously hot sympathy sex.”Conner started laughing. I knew he wasn’t serious, but I also knew that if I didn’t say something, he’d probably actually try it.“Con, you’re my best friend, and you always will be my best friend, but if you pull anything that’s even close to that, I will punch you in the fucking face without even thinking twice about it.”

  • Chris
    2018-12-28 16:37

    I felt so sick.This is when it started falling apart.I know that now.Jack shares this on page 53, still quite early in his book, but well after he's been kidnapped, tortured, and nearly raped, has escaped and, with the help of his best friend, accidentally killed his attacker while trying to take revenge. Things start bad, but they get much, much worse. Because Jack can't escape the shame and trauma of his experience, even after flying all the way to England and falling in love with a beautiful girl. Because England is where a stranger starts following him, then gives him a pair of glasses. When he puts the lenses on, he becomes another Jack in a dystopian wasteland of a world called Marbury. There Jack is one of three survivors looking for any signs of life other than the cannibals that dog their every step, cannibals that include a Marbury version of Connor, his best friend and the only person he's ever truly loved (before Nickie). Each time Jack goes to Marbury he loses his memory of what he is doing in England and hurts Connor and Nickie, but he can't stop going to the place. He doesn't know what's real anymore and thinks his experience might have driven him insane, but can't stop his addiction to bleak, shriveled desolation--whether in the form of Marbury, the real world, his body, or his psyche.This is a hesitant five-star review for me (no it's not; see the update), and I almost gave it four. As much as I liked the book, I wanted to like it more. Jack, you see, stubbornly insists he has never cried and never will. Accordingly, he tells his story a bit distantly and matter-of-factly. Normally I love emotionally understated characters with subtle and deep impact, but this one felt just a bit too remote and at arm's length; I wanted to feel more horror and emotional connection with Jack than I did. Perhaps the issue is in me the reader more than in the writing because I don't have anything slightly similar to Jack's experience that would allow me to relate. Perhaps, but it was still terribly powerful (and believable, for all the fantasy). It's five stars anyway and, unlike most every other book I finish, I'd like to read this one again before too long.And I absolutely think the opening cannot be topped (particularly looking back in light of a subplot I haven't even mentioned):I guess in the old days, in other places, boys like me usually ended up twisting and kicking in the empty air beneath gallows.It's no wonder I became a monster, too.I mean, what would you expect, anyway?And all the guys I know--all the guys I ever knew--can look at their lives and point to the one defining moment that made them who they were, no question about it. Usually those moments involve things like hitting baseballs, or their dads showing them how to gap spark plugs or bait a hook. Stuff like that.My defining moment came last summer, when I was sixteen.That's when I got kidnapped.UPDATE: I said I wanted to read this one again and I just did (well, listened to the excellent audio this time). I'm no longer the least bit hesitant about my five stars. I think it was this reader who was too remote my first reading, and not Jack or Smith. This time my experience was much more visceral and immediate. I was also able to appreciate the deftness and poetry of Smith's use of language. A short example I like, one Smith actually highlighted in a blog post about poetry: In the foothills, we rode through a forest of crucifixions.An interesting note, also from his blog: "I'm wondering how to go about phrasing my conviction that The Marbury Lens is totally real. . . . when I was writing The Marbury Lens, the few people whom I spoke with about writing it (and, by the way, I NEVER talk details about anything I am writing while in the process), I told them that I was "writing a fantasy that isn't a fantasy."" I don't remember when I read this well enough to find the specific post, but I remember previously reading him saying something along the lines of The Marbury Lens is his story.Smith has a way of picking and using names so they stick with you.The more I see the cover, the more I want to keep looking at it.Hey, Nickie, did I tell you about how I got kidnapped by this sick guy named Freddie Horvath? And how he shot me up with drugs and shocked me, and I thought I was going to die? And, oh yeah, how he tried to rape me, too?But I got away from him.YOU DIDN'T GET AWAY FROM ANYTHING, JACK.Freddie Horvath did something to my brain.And then me and my best friend, Connor, killed him. It was an accident, but we fucking killed him, just the same. Did I tell you that, Nickie? Or, did I tell you about how I can't even remember anything about meeting you today because I hallucinated some crazy shit about people getting hacked into pieces and eaten by bugs? Or how I got shot through my side with an arrow?Did I tell you about that, Nickie?Because I do remember that.

  • Kristin(MyBookishWays Reviews)
    2019-01-17 16:40

    You may also read my review here: year old Jack was born on the floor of his grandparent’s house to a 17 year old mother that he’s barely seen or talked to since, except for grindingly awkward twice yearly phone conversations. Days away from a trip to England, along with the possibility of attending a boarding school called St. Atticus for his junior year, he attends a party at his best friend Connor’s and after getting quite drunk, attempts to walk home by himself. It’s then that he falls asleep on a park bench and is kidnapped by a doctor that offers him a ride home. Luckily, the creepy time spent with the doctor is fairly brief, and Jack manages to escape. He decides not to tell the police, only Connor, and Connor decides to make the doc pay, which they certainly do. So, it’s off to London and in the first few days of waiting for Connor to arrive, Jack is followed by a man with the strangest glasses, which soon fall into his hands. Of course, inevitably, he puts on the glasses, and is soon sucked into the world of Marbury.Ahhh, Marbury… Marbury is a blasted wasteland where humans are few and far between and violence is not the exception. The boys are being followed by cannibals and droves of large black bugs called harvesters. Strangely, Jack knows who everyone else is in Marbury. It’s like he’s always been there. He immediately meets half-brothers Ben and Griffin and gets on to his now full-time job of survival. Meanwhile, back in London, life goes on. And therein lies the problem with Marbury. The first time Jack visits, no time has passed it the real world, but this begins to change, and as a result, while Jack is in Marbury, it’s evidently business as usual with Connor, but Jack can rarely remember things that have happened in the real world. To complicate things further, he meets a girl named Nickie who he just might be falling in love with.Just like Jack is sucked into Marbury, I was sucked into Jack’s world. Poor Jack. He’s still haunted by his kidnapping (which may or may not tie into current events), and can’t understand why Marbury is such a pull for him. Even worse, he’s seen Connor on the other side, and he’s not the Connor he knows and loves. If you enjoy trips down the proverbial (and super scary) rabbit hole, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this one, although Marbury certainly is no Wonderland. Ghosts, cannibals, and constant danger are Marbury’s hallmarks, and the author doesn’t hold your hand, or pull any punches. Trust me on this one. There’s some gruesome stuff here, but it’s never gratuitous, and it’s always terrifying. Here’s how Jack describes Marbury:“I was thinking, What if the world was like that? What if we only saw one surface of it, the outside, but there was all kinds of other stuff going on, too? All the time. Underneath. But we just don’t see it, even if we’re part of it? Even if we’re in it? And what if you had a chance to see a different layer, like flipping a channel or something? Would you want to look? Even if what you saw looked like hell? Or worse?”Even though this is technically a YA novel, the only real thing that distinguished it from a non-YA is the age of the protagonists (I’d recommend this for older teens). I only had one quibble, and it’s the speed in which Jack falls for Nickie, but then kept reminding myself that that’s pretty much how things were as a teen, so it is what it is. Andrew Smith’s writing is tight and sure and he captures Jacks self-conscious angst perfectly. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Jack, and watching him slowly fold in on himself in fear is painful. It also hit me in a soft spot as the mom of a boy. I think my son got an extra helping of hugs while I read this book. If you love your modern fantasy with a healthy dose of horror, you’ll eat this one up in one sitting. I did.

  • Jason
    2019-01-09 16:18

    4.5 StarsThis was my second read through this book as I wanted to refresh my memory as I went on to the now released book two, Passenger by Andrew Smith. My first time I read through this book I enjoyed it, but I found, that after a time, it sat well with me and I wanted to read it again. This is a mature young adult fantasy that is not for the faint of heart as it does contain a great deal of swearing, sex, and graphic situations.The story has a great beginning and the main plot behind the story is shown by this early quote:“I guess in the old days, in other places, boys like me usually ended up twisting and kicking in the empty air beneath gallows.It’s no wonder I became a monster, too.I mean, what would you expect, anyway?And all the guys I know—all the guys I ever knew—can look at their lives and point to the one defining moment that made them who they were, no question about it. Usually those moments involved things like hitting baseballs, or their dads showing them how to gap spark plugs or bait a hook. Stuff like that.My defining moment came last summer, when I was sixteen.That’s when I got kidnapped.”The theme of the story:"Freddie Horvath did something to my brain and I need to get help."“But the thing that was most intense about him—and I know this now after what I’ve been through, even if I shrugged it off at the time—were his purple eyeglasses. Because they weren’t just purple, there was something else about them, and when I caught him staring at me and looked right at him, I swear that just for a blinking instant I could see something on the other side of the lenses.Something that was all white and gray, with edges and folds.Something like two deep holes that stretched farther and deeper than anything I’d ever seen before. Really big, like cracking a layer on one of those stacking Russian dolls and finding something you’d never expect could fit inside.And I swear that for that smallest of moments, I could see people on the other side of the lenses, too.”And:““I was thinking, What if the world was like that? What if we only saw one surface of it, the outside, but there was all kinds of other stuff going on, too? All the time. Underneath. But we just don’t see it, even if we’re part of it? Even if we’re in it? And what if you had a chance to see a different layer, like flipping a channel or something? Would you want to look? Even if what you saw looked like hell? Or worse?””This book will mess with your brain a bit too. This is a fun, multiple realities novel where our young protagonist, Jack is made aware of an entirely different world called Marbury. The story works well and Andrew Smith has done a great job at making you feel the madness that befalls Jack. The book explores and touches on some deep themes, like love, madness, addiction, and growth. I loved the way Smith used repetition throughout this book to define the thoughts and madness that Jack is feeling. We frequently here Jack thinking: "Jack doesn't cry", "Fuck you, Jack", and "Freddie Horvath did something". This book will appeal to the YA crowd as well as those that want a light science fiction novel. The pacing is great and the ending worked for me. I will be sure to read more from Andrew Smith.Two times through it is a blast to read!!!Highly Recommend!!!

  • Emilija
    2019-01-15 14:36

    It's a DNF at 20%, I'm giving it 1 star anyway because I fucking can. I wanted to like this one really bad. It looked so interesting and promising but was disappointing from page 1. I could not relate to the character (I don't know his name, see, this is how unrelatable he is to me), he just got on my nerves and I really CANNOT with this book. Normally, I give a book at least 50% until I give up, but as I got older and realised just how precious my time is, I simply do not give a shit about that anymore. A book didn't grip me from the beginning? You best believe that shit's going out the window. Ok that's it for my rant, imma go get some dim sum. Yummy.

  • Shaun Hutchinson
    2019-01-15 18:15

    This book will completely eff with your head. I can't decide if Andrew Smith is insane or a complete genius. Maybe both. Either way, this book is something special. Roll.Tap.Tap.Tap.

  • nancy (The Ravenous Reader)
    2018-12-24 13:34

    Roll, tap tap tap.... Andrew Smith has done something to my brain. Upon finishing THE MARBURY LENS I knew I had witnessed one of the most genuinely disturbing and upsetting books that I have ever read and although it is nightmarish beyond my comprehension I will not soon forget it. Andrew Smith has penned a novel that explores the depths of what a traumatic experience can do to the human psyche. Jack Whitmore narrowly escapes a depraved situation that ultimately brings on the death Jack's captor, innocence and peace of mind. He then travels to England where he meets a mysterious individual that gives him a pair of glasses and Jack's tenuous grip on his sanity begins to slide on a downwards spiral into Marbury. The world of Marbury that Jack is transported into by way of the Marbury Lens is brutal, bone chilling and horrifically visualized. In it's stark desert landscape is a frightening war and Jack is responsible for two young boys that become his soul purpose of survival in Marbury. As the story progresses you witness Jack's grasp on reality slipping...hours and days are lost and Jack does not remember anything, but I cannot forget. As I sit hear writing this vivid flashbacks haunt me. I am still trying to figuring it all out. Was Jack able to survive Marbury and did he descend into madness. Only by ready THE MARBURY LENS can you try to decide. I only know that once you begin reading you will addicted to it's pull as Jack was. While THE MARBURY LENS is unlike anything that I have read (I actually had to put it down for a few days and read it in sparse bits) I recognise the talent that Andrew Smith has. He was able to write a novel that seriously mindfucks you. For as remarkably unforgettable as THE MARBURY LENS is I do not believe it is the literary material that I would have my 15 year old godchild read due to the fact that I believe it had some twisted mature subject matter. I am an older woman and yet I could not stomach alot of what I read. I pushed myself to finish but I am not at peace with that choice. WELCOME HOME, JACK.

  • Seth
    2019-01-03 18:38

    [Seth´s Story]Heh. Pretty clever of me, eh?Anyways. So. This book was an emotional, explosive, life-threatening roller coaster. I loved it so, so much. It´s difficult for me to know where to start talking about just how much I loved this book. Well, I guess I´ll start with the characters.So. I loved them. That pretty much sums it up, yes? NO! My favorite character was probably Seth (and, I´m not talking about myself of course.) He´s a ghost from Marbury. Well, kinda. He lived in the real world (specifically California in the 1880s) but his spirit lived on through Marbury . .. I think. For the record, much of this book does not make sense. But, in a way, it is good for the story, even if it´s not ¨good¨ in any normal sense. Other characters I liked were Conner and Jack, obviously. I wasn´t much interested in their main love intereststs--Nikki and Rachel--probably because in my mind, Conner and Jack were the only ones with any real romance in the story. This book had homosexual thememes throught, and I think that was done becuase Conner and Jack, no matter how much they don´t want to admit it, were in fact gay.*EDIT*Re read this book a while ago before I read the second one ... CRAZY!

  • Sara
    2019-01-12 15:36

    Andrew Smith, you are an amazing disturbed genius. I have yet to read something by you that hasn't been freaking phenomenal. The Marbury Lens is WEIRD. Weird in the best way possible. It is SO disturbing and odd and messy and hard to describe, which is my very very favorite kind of horror. The horror of this book is all-encompassing -- the surrealness of everything that is happening, the imagery, the psychological implications of what the characters are going through -- it's all just SO SCARY. I think I want to read the sequel, but I think I need to be ready to handle it, first?I want to figure out how I'd describe this book to people -- it's adventure, part dystopia, part horror story, part kidnapping drama...part....everything?

  • Daniel Marks
    2018-12-28 16:19

    Holy Crap! The Marbury Lens absolutely blew my mind! Incredibly dark, gruesome and cruelly inventive, Smith not only created a world, but a world of worlds. A war is raging in Marbury, one that becomes a brutal escape and addiction for Jack, the victim of a frightening kidnapping and assault. But the deeper he goes, the harder it is to get back. Shivers aplenty fill these pages!

  • Raeleen Lemay
    2019-01-09 13:37

    perhaps 1.5 stars... the beginning was good after all.

  • Rose
    2018-12-24 18:24

    I don't even know what to say about Andrew Smith's "The Marbury Lens". Because this is one of those novels where I'm sitting right on the fence and I'm not apt to fall on either side - like or dislike. I had my share of problems with this novel, but I was also impressed with it in others. I'm so conflicted that I wondered how exactly to pen this review because it was just a weird, mind-trippy novel. I think its overall aim was to play upon a lot of fears at the level of the psyche - what with multiple references to sex and nudity and violence and all these elements that someone far more apt than me in psychology would be able to delve into. The loopy way it was written alongside some of the frank graphic subjects was meant to compliment that, but the repetitive elements of the work and lack of cohesion in the thematic really took away from what this novel could've been.Let me preface this review with a few things you need to be aware of as far as my background and perception of this novel is concerned. I love very dark themed novels. I like gritty stories with rich dark humor and those that tend to push the envelope when it comes to genre considerations (I don't think this particular novel really reached any of that, but it had it's fair share of graphic portrayals). So I'm not that phased by many things thrown at me, as long as it's plausible in the context of the story. "Marbury Lens" does have some tough considerations for it being a YA novel, as well as taking on some subject matters in ways that didn't necessarily sit well with me. If you are offended by the multiple casual uses of the word "gay" and where it very well could be noted as negative imaging, this may not be the book for you. If you are easily offended by portrayals of near rape and trauma associated with that (and arguably not dealt with in what some would do following that situation), this may not be the book for you. If you are offended by sexually graphic portrayals (such as a cut off penis, among other frank mutilations), this also may not be the book for you. As far as the level of gore and scare factor in this - personally, I thought playing through a few rounds of the Clocktower games were scarier than this (...that probably says something about my gaming habits).I had to take many things with a grain of salt in reading this novel. It really wasn't the easiest to go through, despite a fascinating premise and despite being very well written for quite a good spell in the novel (the novel really dropped the ball when it started switching POV characters, and it became quite boring towards the end). I really liked the intimacy of details and horror elements through the work, and it was interesting to see that Jack's narrative sometimes switched between first person and third person to show his respective disassociations. Despite a stellar narration in the audiobook by Mark Boyett, this novel...just didn't reach what it could've potentially been, though I saw what it was going for.The story revolves around a 16-year old boy named Jack who has the misfortune of being completely drunk, picked up by a stranger, kidnapped, tortured and nearly raped by said stranger, and barely escapes in one piece to arrive back at his friend's house. Granted I was a bit icked out in the whole torture/near rape scene, but not scared. I actually felt sorry for Jack for a time because he's at war with his mind and fears, and there are some palpable PTSD moments given what he goes through in the beginning of the novel. But much of that I think I lost with the repetition of elements in this novel. If I had to hear about the character having something done to his brain, or "Fuck you, Jack" or the "roll, tap, tap, tap" phrasing one more time, my brain would've blown...something. It was too much - I wouldn't have minded some repetition for impact (because honestly that's a brilliant way to show internal contrast), but it was WAY too much. While I thought the Otherworld that Smith painted through the Lenses was interesting, it never really found a place to connect with me because it was so jagged and lacked directive. I didn't really connect to that many of the characters, even. Jack and Connor, yeah, I connected to (even if I didn't like the things they said and did in parts of the novel), but the rest were difficult. The female characters in this work were very much throwaway - I was very disappointed with their respective portrayal here.To touch base a bit on another problem of this novel that really bothered me - it's the portrayal of sex and sexuality here. It doesn't come across well at all, if that were a dimension of the novel that Smith hoped to put across with some distinct measure in the psychological components of this work. I actually didn't have any problems with the mention/display of nudity or some variant state of undress for the characters in this novel. Nah, I can take that fine in a narrative, some authors use that as a way of showing some measure of intimacy (note I'm not talking about sexual intimacy) with respect to a character and some thought process they may have - its a way of showing vulnerability. Ultimately Jack was a very vulnerable character and it was meant to show him "stripped down" (no pun intended) to where he's subjected to these primal states of fear and thought, but it never truly resonates the way it should. This could've been a novel where it had something meaningful to say about this 16-year-old boy with a very palpable struggle with his thoughts on sex and sexuality and some intrinsic fears/insecurities with that. That he could find a true coming to terms. But no, much of the measure of sex and sexuality here was quite isolating, even negative in points. I would even say that many elements here were simply for show (the sex scenes - there are quite a few, and the violence) and never came to a full circle of terms for Jack to grow from in a healthy way, to have him more rounded as a character after the torment he's put through.I'm not sure if I'm invested enough to check into the sequel to this, but I may based on pure curiosity as to where the author takes it. I did like the writing in spurts, and I did see elements here that had potential, but it didn't build upon that potential to where it could've amounted to a more meaningful impact and whole read.Overall: 2.5/5

  • paula
    2019-01-09 11:45

    This book doesn't come out til November, so I am not going to post the review on Pink Me until September or October. But while it's fresh in my mind, here it is...What is this?I know about teen novels with alternate worlds. Usually those worlds are carefully mapped out, explained, lovingly explored by the author. And I know what is a book with a teenage protagonist who endures a terrible, traumatic experience. Although usually those are girls. It can be rough these days to be a girl in a YA non-fantasy novel. You might get buried alive, or raped, or raped a lot, or die, and you will almost certainly be kidnapped. I even know horror. I have read a lot of horror, especially when I was a very young person, and very unsure about things.So I think The Marbury Lens is horror. But it is non-cheap, un-easy horror.Really good horror generally functions as metaphor, in addition to scaring you til your flesh creeps on your bones. The haunted house stands in for the disordered mind, or the family with secrets. Ghosts represent trauma not yet assimilated. The killer clown - yeah actually the killer clown doesn't need a deeper layer of meaning. Killer clowns are just messed up.So in this book... jeez can you tell I'm procrastinating about committing to saying something about this book? I feel a bit underqualified here. This is a harsh damn book. There are flesh-eating beetles and dismembered corpses (emphasis on "member") in a desert world called Marbury. There's a boy who is kidnapped by a murdering rapist in Ventura County, California. But the connection - between Marbury's dreadful postapocalyptic desert world and our own - is through the boy. The boy is Jack, of course his name is Jack - and he goes to Marbury, acts and lives in Marbury, only after the psychic apocalypse of his kidnapping and torture.I don't want to stretch too far here. There are demons in Marbury - one of them is his best friend. Are these the demons in Jack's head, left there by his kidnapper? Is Jack really still a captive, hallucinating his experiences in Marbury and in our world as a result of the sedatives injected into him by his kidnapper? Or did he die?But the book fairly forces speculation of this nature. Regardless of how awful, how filthy and dangerous and punishing Marbury is, Jack feels a physical need to return there. It's all he thinks about, even after meeting and falling in love with a sweet girl who loves him back. The parallel to addiction is so obvious his best friend even brings it up. But the reader may then think about the addictive nature of self-loathing - the kind of self-loathing that victims of violence often fall prey to.I read this book in two days. I was fascinated and enthralled, in the sick way that I associate with reading horror, but also because it's a deep damn read and I could not figure out what was cause and what was effect. I never did, even at the end. Some things, many things, are left unresolved. Either I need to think about them more, or they were, in fact, beside the point.I found myself comparing The Marbury Lens to Going Bovine by Libba Bray, and Jacob's Ladder, that movie with Tim Robbins as a hallucinating Vietnam war veteran. When people review horror, there's always a Stephen King comparison. Well, let me tell you. Stephen King is just beginning to write with this kind of psychological insight. I told a friend, "I seriously don't know what to make of this thing. It's like Kafka, but more scenic."So there you go. Like Kafka, but more scenic. That's just great.

  • Mitchel Broussard
    2019-01-17 14:23

    I can't begin to explain my dilemma in rating this book. Here's a good word: weird. Wait, no: W.E.I.R.D. It's story structure was so odd, it's characters were annoying at one point, then endearingly off-beat at another, and then it's plot.. oh god it's plot. Obviously it did something good enough for me to give it a four, so bare with me as I try to figure this out as I write this.Let's start at the beginning. Jack gets drunk, gets kidnapped, gets felt up and almost raped by a pedophile doctor, and then escapes. Ummm.. was this not the book about magic glasses that transports a kid to an alternate world, or did my mom accidentally stray into the "books for pussies" aisle when she was buying my gifts? My exact thought about 100 pages in. The narration is in the first-person (told by Jack), but he sometimes slips into the third-person, dropping such stinkers asFuck you, Jack. Fuck you, or my personal favorite,Jack doesn't cry. Jack never cries. I cringed the first time. I guess I got used to it after a while, but it's pretty obnoxious sometimes.And the plot. Um... I have no idea. Jack goes to London after his almost-rape, gets a magic pair of glasses from some hippie dude, and is transported to Marbury when he wears them. But isn't, because other characters attest to his being in our world while simultaneously being in Marbury. I guess he just goes on auto-pilot like Adam Sandler inClickor something. But Marbury is NOT a nice place. Flesh-eating bugs, locals that wear scalps to cover their unmentionables and teeth as jewlery have taken over, and over-there Jack leads the last group of humans looking for fellow non-crazies.If it sounds all over the place, it kind of is, but still manages to come together nicely. Weaving between Jack fighting for the remains of the human race in Marbury, and Jack grasping onto the remains of his sanity in our world. And even a little campfire-type ghost story about a kid from the 1800's, whose importance to the overall plot I still ponder over.What surprised me (well, besides the entire book) was how well the relationships are handled. Jack's friendship with lifelong best friend Connor, is perfectly realized and thought out. Connor is kind of a d-bag, but by the end you can see why the two were friends since birth. Then Nickie, the girl Jack meets in London, and their consequent relationship together was nice. Despite Jack literally going insane, and wondering why the hell Nickie was sticking around, it was cute.This definitely pushes boundaries of YA literature, though. May even surpass Charlie Higson'sThe Enemyin the eww-gross-they-can-do-that-in-a-YA-book??!! category. Besides walls of decaying and flayed human flesh, man-eating bugs, and gruesomely described wounds and battles, there is quite the number of sex (and other... stuff) scenes. It's not overabundant, and it really gives it a nice edge to what otherwise could have been just a really confusing book about a kid going crazy... but isn't... but may be.So... yeah, you should read this. The writing is brilliant (you really feel Jack's stress and anxiety at what the Lens is doing to him. It was actually intense enough to really bother me at once - and that's good writing) and the post-apocalyptic barren landscape of Marbury produces perfect imagery of a desolate landscape and world filled with no hope. Besides the nagging lapses into third-person and a really ambiguous ending, I think it's worth a read.*Phew*. Hardest. Review. Ever.

  • Carolina
    2019-01-17 16:21

    Seriously? THE MARBURY LENS is a MAJOR mind trip from the beginning to the final word. I wasn’t sure if I was in a fantasy world or inside the mind of a crazy person. But that’s what makes this book so freakishly cool. I flew through this, thinking: OMG OMG OMG OMG…And you know what makes this possible? Brilliant writing. You see, Jack is an unreliable narrator, and what he’s experiencing isn’t exactly normal. And unlike typical works of urban fantasy or magical realism, you can’t assume that the fantasy element actually exists. Jack’s kidnapping not only impacts Jack and the course of the whole story (as Jack discovers and navigates the hidden world of Marbury), but also colors the way that the reader views the story as it unfolds. We can’t be certain that the kidnapping hasn’t caused Jack to snap OR if the kidnapping wasn’t connected to later events in another way. We just don’t know. What makes it even harder to figure out is that the events that occur in Marbury seem to have an impact on Jack in the real world. I’d love to see how a filmmaker interprets THE MARBURY LENS. It felt like every scene could be taken two different ways. Every time Jack asks, Is this real? I found myself thinking, “OMG, I don’t know!” It’s just so trippy.THE MARBURY LENS is a work of delicious literary genius. The concept alone will have your head spinning—a story within a story within a story, all of them interconnected. The characters are so real, so genuine. I felt so connected to Jack and Conner and Nickie. The prose was dynamic and rich. The dialogue was pure gold. Smith captured the voices of real teens as if he’d merely flipped on a tape recorder and transcribed—never once did his creations break character. And the imagery—stunningly vivid and original. And yeah, gruesome at times. The realistic settings are sharp and well-defined (Smith did an amazing job capturing the essence of England), while Marbury is just…I don’t know, this unbelievable, horrible place where the evils of its world are not hidden like they can be in ours; they are exposed in all their gruesome terror for all to see. THE MARBURY LENS is dark and gritty, a no holds barred sort of book that doesn’t pussyfoot around, making something major into less—it doesn’t, for example, make a kidnapping of a child or murder seem any less horrifying than it is. It pushes the boundaries of YA—sort of paralleling the way older teens will push the boundaries of adolescence.But, while THE MARBURY LENS is blunt and intense, and yes, dark, it’s not overly graphic—but more importantly, it’s quite profound. Jack’s story is more than just a venture into another world. It’s a journey of friendship and love, hope and healing.But is Jack’s story(ies) real? I’m not telling. You’ll just have to read and find out.

  • A.E.
    2019-01-02 14:26

    If you can get through THE MARBURY LENS it will impress you, one way or another. It's brutal, gritty, harsh, graphic, and at times very difficult to read. Not what I expected and not for the faint of heart. In the first pages, Jack gets drunk, is kidnapped and nearly raped by a sadistic serial killer, escapes, and gets to his BFF Conner but they don't tell anyone what happened. They plot revenge that goes haywire then head off to their planned summer trip to London where Jack gets the lenses. Wearing the lenses he's transported to a post-apocalyptic world where he's fighting for his life and protecting two younger boys. He gets addicted to going to Marbury and worried he's going crazy. And is he? Has the trauma he suffered messed with his mind? What's real and what's not are left open to interpretation. The violence is brutal - , murder, mayhem, decapitation, dismemberment, flesh eating beetles, cannibalism - all that yummy kind of stuff. There're lots of parallels and connections woven between Jack's two worlds in regards to relationships and people in his life. Friendship and loyalty are the major components of the story and the characters are complicated to say the least. Once Jack starts going to Marbury, his time in real-world London can seem boring and I found myself wanting to get back to Marbury - brutal as it may be - apparently as addicted as Jack. (Note to self: If stranger offers cool goggles, run away!)THE MARBURY LENS is a well-written tale of ugliness - intertwined with strong friendships - that leaves a lot of unanswered questions, and encourages you to make your own conclusions. If you start reading it, you'll have to finish, but I can't guarantee you'll find it satisfying. Powerful? Thought-provoking? Gripping? So gross you want to look away but can't? Yes, but it doesn't tie things up in nice little bows. Part dystopian, part horror, part sci-fy. And for older teens only due to sex, drinking, attempted rape, lots of swearing, graphic violence, sadistic killers, etc. Unique, dark, twisted and not your usual YA. REVIEW/BLOG LINK: