The Marbury Lens
Title: The Marbury Lens
Author: Andrew Smith
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pub Date: 2010
Nominate for Teens’ Top 10: Yes
Convince us to read the book: If you like creepy psychological thrillers with supernatural undercurrents, like me, this will be an extremely enjoyable read. The writing was suspenseful, convincing, and nearly seamless.
Compelling Aspect of the Book: The most compelling thing about the Marbury Lens is its original approach to the parallel world idea. Instead of an imaginary paradise escape, Marbury is actually a very scary place, yet the main character, Jack, can't stop looking into the lenses and falling into his other self. The treatment of Marbury as a life-destroying addiction was fascinating. Both worlds were bad and had really awful things happening in them. The only difference was that the bad things in Marbury were obvious and out in the open, while in the "real" world they were subtler and crept up gradually and in less defend able ways. It was despairing to watch the characters getting sucked into a conflict between both worlds and unable to control themselves. Jack is an extremely traumatized character; the way the author depicts his psychological struggles is incredibly captivating and convincing, which is the source of most of the book's suspense. Jack, despite being in serious emotional pain and puking for much of the story, was handled well enough that he never came across as overly whiny or annoying. The relationship between Jack and his best friend was vividly described in a way that made me care about them. The romance with the English girls made its point without being overpowering or too mushy, and was a nice humorous break from the addiction and other-worldly tension.
Were you disappointed with the book at all: My only disappointment was at the very end: after all the struggle, the last few chapters kind of just fizzled out with no clear resolution to give me that last bit of satisfaction to balance the story. The very first chapter felt a lot more like a conclusion, and if just a couple more pages were added to tie things back to the retrospective things said at the beginning, or a clue to a sequel, would be enough to fix it.
Comments: I also wanted to mention that the repetition of a few phrases (Roll. Tap. Tap. Tap. and "You haven't gotten away from anything, Jack") to show both Jack's mental torment as well as tying themes across the story and signaling transitions was really cool. All in all, the Marbury Lens is brilliant, if totally creepy and slightly indecisively conclusive book.
Cover: The cover of this book is downright awesome. It caught my attention immediately with its use of contrast (my favorite artistic element) between the grimy black and white of the face and the mysterious swirling colors in the lenses. This reflects the contents of the book very well: a harsh fuzzy reality brushing against a forbidden and dangerous parallel world. The cover also has an uneasy sense of inexplicable dread about it, which is very cool because that was part of the main concept. I was impressed by the accuracy of the cover quote: "The Marbury Lens crawls inside your head and won't leave. Scary, creepy, awful and awesome." That is exactly what it is. Finally, a cover quote that isn't completely arbitrary or just plain wrong! The blurb was also actually well written, unlike most books'.
Age Range: 14-17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal