Monday, June 20, 2011

A Review of 'The Marbury Lens' by Andrew Smith (Audio Book)

"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, Connor.  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.  Connor 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.

Connor 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 minds.

At first, I was a little confused.  I had to go back and listen a few times because I thought I missed something that happened between when Jack was kidnapped and when he and Connor went to London.  This was probably the biggest thing that stands out as not working so well-- the transitions.

I appreciated the many differences this book had from the other novels.  For instance, Jack was often at a moment of weakness whether that was puking his guts out after leaving Marbury or beating himself up in his own head saying, "F*** you, Jack."  Not that I promote and support this kind of behavior, but usually when there's a male protagonist, he doesn't get tossed around nearly as much.  And there certainly isn't trauma on the same level as the trauma that Jack experiences.

What was interesting was the relationship between Jack and Connor.  They're basically opposites, but they act like brothers.  Never before have I read of any characters in a situation where they just aren't awkward around each other-- no matter how much they try to be.  Nothing comes as a surprise because they've been friends for so long.  Many guys (in books and I've noticed this in real life too) give awkward hugs and then brush it off like it's nothing.  It's completely stereotypical and I'm really glad that Andrew Smith tried to add a level of realism to this novel.

I didn't quite understand how Seth fit into the story other than he appeared to Jack.  Certainly, his story was interesting, but I think this brings me back to the not-so-good transitions.

There was also one particular loose-end that I can remember.  Whatever happened to Freddy, Jack's attacker?  I didn't hear if he was ever found.

While there were many good parts (both interesting and well-written) and excellent character development, it was the bringing together of several parts of the story that made many parts confusing.  Therefore, I give 'The Marbury Lens':
Thanks for reading!


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