Review by Nōn Wels: Check out his writing/political/philosophy blog, A Thousand Screaming Rabbits.
Andrew Smith’s The Marbury Lens is an intense, terrifying, poetic and redemptive ride. And it’s certainly a ride worth taking. Again, and again, and again.
The story opens with the teenage Jack and his best friend Conner attending a party one would typically find kids of their age. A few hours into it, after some level of drunkenness and boredom settles in, Jack finds himself wandering home, wherein he encounters a stranger. Curious, slightly cautious, but mostly too inebriated to find the clarity, Jack accepts a ride from the strange man.
Hours later, Jake wakes. Distraught, frightened for his life, traumatized.
Wishing to escape the traumatic experience, Jack takes off on a previously planned trip he and Conner had been planning. A trip to England. A trip, in Jack’s mind, that couldn’t have come at a better time. So he says goodbye to Conner (he would arrive one week later) and his uncle and aunt, and sets off across the pond.
It is at this point in the story when the intensity increases ten-fold. After meeting a curious man named Henry Hewitt, Jack finds himself with an equally curious pair of glasses.
Without saying much more about the plot, I will say that The Marbury Lens is every bit as eloquent and dynamic in its storytelling as Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. It is well-crafted, both structurally and in regards to its character development. It is a perfect mélange of grungy science fiction, of inter-relational study, of serious examination of trauma and the way in which one reacts to, and heals from said trauma.
Overall, I was blown away by this story. It is affecting and impactful. And you should read it too.
Note from Jessica: I have not seen Non speed through a book like he did this one (well, not since the first Hunger Games). In fact he hardly put it down. Check out the author’s blog, Ghost Medicine— I particularly like his blog post about categorizing children into age groups for books. I am doing this for my blog, but it can be somewhat problematic– Scary Smart Kids
Age Group: 16 and up (Contains bad language and teenage/adult content)
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction
Themes: Science Fiction, trauma, social issues, mental health
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (imprint of Macmillan)