Jeannie Mancini's Reviews > The Marbury Lens

The Marbury Lens by Andrew  Smith
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Nov 12, 10

Read in November, 2010

3.5 star review.

Well, this was a whopper. Truly, and honestly, a doozy of a story. Frighteningly realistic, scary, chilling and very riveting. This is a page turner you can't put down until you've reached the end.

17 year old Jack Whitmore, born a bastard on his mother's kitchen floor, grows up with his grandparents since his parents chose to not participate in his rearing. Getting drunk one night at a party with his best friend Conn has Jack hitting the streets to walk off his stupor. Stopping in the local park on his way home, he collapses on a park bench only to be woken the next morning by a man dressed in hospital scrubs asking him if he was ok. This mysterious doctor offers Jack a ride home and foolishly Jack accepts. But Jack is not taken home. Horrible things are done to Jack, things of your worst nightmares. Luckily Jack escapes & heads to Conn's house to tell him what has happened. These two young men then plot, plan, and execute, a brutal revenge.

Putting the horror behind them, Jack and Conn travel to London for a holiday. While alone, Jack is approached by a man who seems to know him, hands him a pair of odd looking purple glasses, then walks away. Not being able to resist such an oddity, Jack puts the glasses on. His world, from that point on, turns upside down, backwards and forwards, and a rollercoaster ride from hell ensues. Through the glasses, there is a post apocalypse world of war that has ravished the land. Murderous gangs of teenagers fight for survival, & savagely fight against each for dominance..and food. This desolate world is called Marbury and when Jack arrives, he becomes part of something terrifying, and abominable. There on the other side, the person out to kill him is his real life friend Conn. Fine lines of love & friendship, loyalty & betrayal, bleed into both worlds and Jack slowly comes undone.

Jettisoned back and forth from trying to maintain reality and normalcy in London, and finding himself addicted to fixing the wrongs in Marbury, Jack begins to get very ill. He is dying, he is bleeding, he is seeing things...even ghosts. What is real, what is imagined? Is Jack hallucinating from his traumatic kidnapping event, or is there really an alternative world on the other side of those glasses? Marbury Lens is a finely tuned, well written, thought provoking story, that holds characters very authentic that you will feel for. The plot is extremely engaging, the whole well rounded package will have you on the edge of your seat. It will keep you awake at night with both fear and awe due to the author's talent to tell a tale that will not be forgotten soon.

However, as much as I LOVED THE BOOK UNTIL THE END, the final page really pissed me off. The reader gets NO answers, all questions go without resolution, the mystery of Marbury is not revealed. What the heck? Are we suppose to provide our own ending? Leave it up to our own imaginations? I'm sorry, right up to the next to the last page I was on a 5 star rating track. This ending was so unacceptable to me, and frankly, kicked my review rating down to a 3.5. To write such an phenomenal story, and leave the ending hanging, with no word of whether there is more to come in a sequel...just plain doesn't wash clean. This book was so very creative, awesomely different. A cool psycho thriller, horror chiller blend. How could the author totally ruin such a masterpiece with this gaping hole as a finale?

In addition, there is something here I need to say. I put a high PARENT ALERT on this book due to heavy content not appropriate in my opinion for teens under 16. There are serious adult issues in this novel that I actually found hard to believe a publisher would categorize as "Young Adult" literature. Kidnapping, rape, drinking, sex, murder, heavy violence and killing, emotional and psychological trauma issues. I read a lot of Young Adult sci-fi/ fantasy and I'm beginning to think that a new level of age rating should be created. Middle Readers are 7-9 yrs old, Young Adult is considered 12 and up. With the current trend of books for teens that I've read lately, all heavy with violence, I believe a new category for 15 and up should be put in place. Perhaps something called MTRs for Mature Teen Reads? There is no way, that I would give this book The Marbury Lens to a 12 year old. Perfectly acceptable for adults, with the questionable ending included, but not in my eyes a teen read.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Shaun Hutchinson Gotta disagree. I think people put too high a premium on needing a definitive answer. I'm sure that Andrew Smith knows what happened, but I find that the real draw of this story is exploring it for myself. Maybe there is a singular answer as to what happened, but I loved this book so much that I want to crawl through the text and search out the meaning for myself. If the author gave us a definitive statement as to what happened--was Marbury real? Did Jack ever really escape Freddie Horvath? Did Con and Jack return?--it would have ended the journey for me. With an this kind of ending, I'm allowed to explore the book for my own meaning. I can give it to my friends and then we can get drunk and argue about the truth.

Personally, I don't think this is a story that ends. I don't think Jack ever escapes--mentally or physically. Not knowing is a thrill. However, that said, I do believe that the author left enough clues to formulate a definitive answer as to what was going on and where Jack was at in the end. I think he's giving the readers credit that we can figure it out ourselves.


Jeannie Mancini In that case Shaun, if I'm supposed to figure out myself what really happened, I missed it. But that is why there are all kinds of books for all kinds of people, and why these forums get people agreeing and disagreeing. Frankly, like you I really thought the book was the cat's meow until the end. I'm not into a book without and ending and not understanding the meaning of what I just read. I suppose it could be like those kids books called Choose Your Own Adventure where they create an ending that they want. This book's ending could have meant many things. It could mean that the boys were stuck there, it could mean they came back. And if they came back, did they keep going back to Marbury? My main gripe is that even with that line of thinking, Smith didnt really get into what Marbury was, how it came to be, the story of Henry? The point of Seth? Sorry, I cant agree with you but thanks for reading my reviews and thanks for your comment. I think there will be many online reviews on this book on various sites that will be very very interesting to read now. There will be many opinions and takes on the story. I'm an Amazon vine reviewer and I can't wait to see what the other reviewers have to say on it all. Gonna creat a little havoc maybe?


Shaun Hutchinson Agreed! I love discussion. I don't comment to be ornery, I just really loved this book and enjoy debating about it. I'll be honest, I'm STILL not sure what happened at the end. I plan on reading it again and again. It's a lot like the movie Mulholland Drive in that respect.

Disagree away! It's what makes Goodreads so fun. :)


Jeannie Mancini well, honestly Shaun, if you figure it out, let me know ok? I feel angry at this ending. Such a masterpiece without resolution? If there was a hint that this was going to be a trilogy, or series, I'd feel better, but I havent seen/heard that. So let me know if you figure it out. I just posted my review on librarything.com and on amazon but it probably wont show up until tomorrow. You can watch my review for other comments people might have. Just also finished another great YA, TIme Rider by Alex Scarrow. That rocked too!


Shaun Hutchinson Ahhh! I have that on my list. It was good? I'm reading Black Hole Sun right now. It's pretty good. The writing is smart and funny, which is cool for a sci-fi novel.

I'll let you know. I have a feeling people will be discussing this one for a long time.


Jeannie Mancini yes TIme Rider was excellent. You can see my review on amazon under vernefan/jeannie mancini, check it out.


message 7: by ~Tina~ (new)

~Tina~ Thanks for this honest review. I never realized that this book contained subject matters that I am not comfortable with and while I'm sure it's a fine read I took it off my tbr list. Thanks again.


Jeannie Mancini You are welcome. to this day I still just don't get the ending but oh well...too many other fine books to read to worry about it.


message 9: by ~Tina~ (new)

~Tina~ It's a shame really, it looks like fascinating read:(


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