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The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith

February 14, 2019

Jack Whitmore lost control in the wrong place at the wrong time. One night, after stumbling away from a party, Jack is kidnapped by a man posing as a doctor, named Freddie Horvath. Freddie keeps Jack trapped in his van. The van’s windows are painted black so Jack has no idea where he is or what is happening to him, and Freddie beats him repeatedly. One day Freddie leaves for a few hours, Jack sees his opportunity, escapes, and runs home. I enjoyed how Smith continued to circle back to this reference throughout the book; it brings a sense of reality and an awareness of the past to Jacks journey.

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith then takes us to England. Jack and his friend Connor are leaving their home in Glenbrook, California, to visit a boarding school that Jack’s grandfather attended. Once Jack arrives in England, he decides to go to a local pub. When he is at the pub he meets a stranger named Henry. After they share a few drinks, Henry tells Jack about a mysterious pair of glasses. He then gives Jack the glasses and says they will take him to a place called Marbury.  Marbury is a world not under, above, or even next to ours – it’s another dimension. Marbury consists in a separate reality. Curious, Jack decides to use them. He looks through the glasses and discovers Marbury and sees the bloody war that is currently taking place. As the days pass, Jack starts finding it harder and harder to put the glasses down, until the point where going to Marbury becomes an addiction. I thought that the way that Jack gets strung to the lens and he has to balance them with reality added another aspect to the book to contribute the craziness of the novel and its conflict.   

Then readers are introduced to Seth, a ghost that lived and died in Marbury that Jack mysteriously sees frequently when he looks through the lens. Except something is special about Seth: unlike all the people that live in Marbury, Seth has the ability to cross from Marbury into reality. Jack finds Seth taunting him, announcing himself with the distinctive sound of roll… tap tap tap. Jack meets two boys, Ben and Griffin Goodrich, who accompany Jack and his trip through the endless void of Marbury. Marbury is tearing Jack’s thoughts apart piece by piece; it starts to interfere with Jack’s relationships outside of Marbury: his and his best friend Connor’s interaction, and his overall time outside of Marbury. Smith impressed me by intertwining the narratives of Seth, Jack, and Connor.

I would recommend this book to anyone thirteen or above due to consistent PG-13 content. There is a sequel to this book, called Passenger. I found that Passenger was slow and was not a good read. I abandoned Passenger midway through due to the lack of these elements. But that did not limit my enjoyment of the first book, and I hope that readers try The Marbury Lens.


Feiwel and Friends, 370 pages

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