The Marbury Lens
Sixteen-year-old Jack, after drinking far too much at an end-of-the-year party, finds himself kidnapped by a local serial killer. After days of abuse and frantic stuggle, Jack manages to escape his captor, but the experience has haunted him. Jack only confides in his best friend, Conner, but they agree not to tell anyone and risk canceling their two-week stay in London that summer. Conner tries to reassure Jack that things will be okay once they reach London, but after arriving, Jack is handed a strange pair of glasses by a stranger, and by looking through the glasses, Jack can see into another world. In this world, Jack is responsible for two young boys, protecting them from hoards of humanoid demons, and Conner is desperately trying to kill him. Meanwhile, back in London, Jack is starting to fall in love with a beautiful English girl, but his sense of reality is dangerously blurring...
IMPORTANT NOTE: I would tell ANYONE who is not in high school to avoid reading this book, and even if you are in high school you may want to wait a few years. This book had rather excessive cursing in it, not meaning once or twice a chapter, but more like once or twice a sentence. Though this is a slight exaggeration, it isn't by much. Also, there is considerable sexual content in it, so it is NOT a book for young readers.
The Marbury Lens was very good, EXTREMELY suspenseful, but at points very confusing. Really, the confusing nature of the book makes it more effective since it chronicles Jack's struggles to deal with serious trauma, and most of the time he had no idea what to think. I had to go back and reread some portions of the book to understand them better, but I still struggled in some parts. As noted above, the book contained a lot of swearing, and even though it plagued the book, I could understand the reason Smith used it so much, partly from hearing certain students talk in my high school combined with the incredible stress that Jack must have been feeling. I would say it helps the reader understand the trauma that Jack feels, but it can be annoying for those who don't approve of, or at least don't use, curse words. The section in Marbury is what really intrigued me, and I wish more time had been spent there. This ruined world, similar to ours, and seemingly connected (especially during the train scene), is very complicated, yet the reader does not get much insight as to the history or laws of Marbury. As I was reading it for enjoyment and not for deeper literary meaning, I didn't really find what Marbury was supposed to symbolize in our world, but I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Two possibilities that pop in my head are that it shows peoples' true nature, either to follow one's bestial instincts or retain order and compassion for others, or that it was simply the state of someone's mind who has gone through trauma. Either way, it is a complicated yer important part of this book that can be open to individual interpretation. Overall, the story was very well written with excellent characterization, but I can hardly call it a relaxing story, and once again it should only be for older readers.
Questions for Thought:
1. After escaping from Freddie, would you have run to the cops, back home, or to your friend for help?
2. Had you seen Freddie after escaping like Jack and Conner did, what would you have done?
3. After the two traumatic incidents, would you have still gone to London, or would you have stayed home to recover?
4. If some stranger handed you the Marbury Lens, would you keep it? Would you still keep it after looking through it the first time?
5. If you were in Marbury and you saw your best friend trying to kill you, how would you react?
6. If you were in Marbury as one of the "demon people" like Conner, what would you think of yourself?
7. What do you think Marbury is?
Please leave your comments and answers!
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