Book Review: The Marbury Lens

3 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review

The Marbury Lens Cover Title: The Marbury Lens (Marbury Lens #1)

Author: Andrew Smith

Summary: [from GoodReads]

 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.

My Review

What an odd little book.The Marbury Lens strikes me as one that would have a cult-like following, and either you love it or you don’t really like it. Unfortunately, I fall into the latter category.

One of the things I really did appreciate about it was the unusual mixture of genres. Half the time it read as a contemporary, while the other half was pure fantasy/dystopia. The juxtaposition made for a fascinating character study. Jack is so incredibly damaged in the real world that it’s never quite clear whether Marbury is real or his own subconscious coping mechanism. In a way, you get the sense of two novels being told, nested together like the matryoshka metaphor that comes up every so often. This meta level alone makes the book seem like it would be a great book to study in a class.

Unfortunately, the fantasy reader in me was incredibly frustrated by the end of the book. The Marbury Lens sets up this beautiful bleak place for Jack to travel to. It is complete with horrifying dangers and terrible yet great adventures. And it is never explained. There are passing references to a recent war that made the world what it is, and it is clear that the worlds are interdependent because everyone has a counterpart in both worlds. THAT’S IT. Now, I will grant that it is entirely plausible for the characters not to know. But as a reader I feel gipped. I don’t understand this world at all, and therefore don’t understand the importance of the world, symbolically.

I am honestly so conflicted about this book that I’m not even sure whether I liked it. There were things I liked about it, and there were things I didn’t like. I want to read more to find the explanation I’m looking for, but do I really want to put myself through that if it doesn’t deliver? I really don’t know. Bottom line: Proceed with care!

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3 Responses to “Book Review: The Marbury Lens”

  1. I had the audiobook for this one out for a while, but returned it … I still want to listen to it, but I’m a little scared! It sounds like a crazy read!

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