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The Marbury Lens (The Marbury Lens #1)

3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,223 Ratings  ·  654 Reviews
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 murde
Hardcover, 1st Edition, 358 pages
Published November 9th 2010 by Feiwel & Friends
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
The Holy Terror
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
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*

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 v
Jan 20, 2011 Lea rated it it was ok
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
May 05, 2013 Ariel rated it it was ok
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
Sep 29, 2011 Megan rated it it was amazing
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 p
John Egbert
Aug 03, 2011 John Egbert rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Cats would get enjoyment of this.
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 ac
Brian James
May 02, 2010 Brian James rated it it was amazing
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 tr ...more
Dec 27, 2010 Penny rated it liked it
Shelves: dystopian, bro-mance
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 oth
Jen Bigheart (I Read Banned Books)
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, 2010

This 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
Jan 19, 2013 Michelle rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2013
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
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, untame ...more
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 en ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Jason rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

This 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 stor
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
You may also read my review here:

16 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 hom
May 02, 2011 Chris rated it it was amazing
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
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?"


Mar 29, 2015 Emilija rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Raeleen Lemay
Mar 19, 2015 Raeleen Lemay rated it did not like it
Shelves: own
perhaps 1.5 stars... the beginning was good after all.
nancy (The Ravenous Reader)
Dec 05, 2010 nancy (The Ravenous Reader) rated it really liked it
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
Sep 30, 2013 Seth rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 01, 2011 Cecily rated it it was ok
I picked this one up because it made a few "best of 2010" lists, but I have very mixed feelings about it. Jack is kidnapped and nearly raped, and his way of coping with the psychological trauma of that experience is an addiction to visiting the bleak, monstrous, other-dimensional world of Marbury. In Marbury,the evil things of the world are visible on the surface. Monsters look like monsters and not like kindly doctors. Jack exhibits all the physical and behavioral signs of addiction as well, an ...more
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
Daniel Marks
Oct 06, 2011 Daniel Marks rated it it was amazing
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!
Joel Mollman
Aug 06, 2015 Joel Mollman rated it really liked it
The other books I've read by Andrew Smith were much quicker reads; once I picked them up, I couldn't put them down. This book is not the same, and I believe it's largely because of how dark it is. Much like the character Jack, if the reader spent too much time in the world of Marbury, he or she might go a little insane. Before you even get to Marbury, you have to get through the main character going through an incredibly traumatic event that will likely make you need to put the book down for
Shaun Hutchinson
Nov 07, 2010 Shaun Hutchinson rated it it was amazing
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.

Schuyler Esperanza
Jun 28, 2011 Schuyler Esperanza rated it it was amazing
I didn't expect The Marbury Lens to grip me so tightly and to hold on so hard afterward. This book is haunting and haunted: filled with sad, strange, unforgettable scenes, and characters you want to pluck from the horror and wreathe in kindness. It's ostensibly about two worlds, our contemporary one, and Marbury (a fantasy/dystopian landscape of unspeakable terror--and also tender heroics). Marbury is seen and experienced only through glasses a stranger (in a sense) leaves for Jack. Yet there ar ...more
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-
Feb 10, 2011 A&E rated it liked it
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.

Oct 21, 2010 Carolina rated it it was amazing
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 th
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Andrew Smith is the author of Winger , The Marbury Lens , Passenger , Ghost Medicine , Stick , and In the Path of Falling Objects . Grasshopper Jungle is coming from Dutton/Penguin on February 11, 2014.
More about Andrew Smith...

Other Books in the Series

The Marbury Lens (2 books)
  • Passenger (The Marbury Lens, #2)

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“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?” 22 likes
“The one sure thing about Marbury is that it’s a horrible place. But so is right here, too. And there’s certain benefit in the obviousness of its brutality, because in Marbury there’s no doubt about the nature of things: good and evil, or guilt and innocence, for example. Not like here, where you could be sitting in the park next to a doctor or someone and not have any idea what a sick and dangerous sonofabitch he really is. Because we always expect things to be proper, even if we haven’t learned our fucking lesson that it just doesn’t work out like that all the time.” 12 likes
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