Brian James's Reviews > The Marbury Lens

The Marbury Lens by Andrew  Smith
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May 02, 10

Read from April 12 to 25, 2010

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 traditional fiction...more fantasy, flat problem novels, and updated Sweet Valley High books disguised as Chiklet Lit. Hats off to Andrew Smith for not standing for it and pushing back.

The Marbury Lens in an unflinching look at good and evil that not only exists in the world, but also within each of us. Its uncompromising vision of Hell is some of the best post-apocalyptic imagery I've ever encountered. However, it's brutality is not the kind of gore porn we see so often on screen, in this book it's there for a reason and compels and challenges the reader to think, propelling them out of their comfort zone.

Another aspect that I love about this novel is that it remains somewhat open-ended in the conclusions one draws. I know from first-hand experience to responses from my own writing, that some readers don't appreciate this aspect in a book. But I've always felt this to be one of the great things that makes YA Lit what it is. As a teenager, one encounters in order to develop their own ideas. A great YA author doesn't dictate to them, but presents them with a vision and allows them to experience it in their own way.

This is the type of book that YA needs to produce in order to avoid the same fate suffered in the '90s and remain inclusive of teen readers who don't want to read vampire romance.
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