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 murderous place where Jack is responsible for the survival of two younger boys. Conner is there, too. But he’s trying to kill them.
Meanwhile, Jack is falling in love with an English girl, and afraid he’s losing his mind.
Conner tells Jack it’s going to be okay.
But it’s not.
Andrew Smith has written his most beautiful and personal novel yet, as he explores the nightmarish outer limits of what trauma can do to our bodies and our minds.
Based on the reviews I have read most people either love this or hate it, not many rest in the middle – except me. I still haven’t decided how I feel about it yet, but I can say I have never read anything like it before. It was much darker than I had expected (rape and molestation all in the first 50 pages, it got real – fast). I’m not sure how YA this actually is, besides the fact that the main character is 16. And there is some major PTSD going on. And what is it with male authors/protagonists not giving very good physical descriptions? All I know about Jack is that he is a cross country runner, so I have a general idea of his build – and that his hair falls in his eyes sometimes. No hair color, no eye color, no distinguishing marks beyond the injuries he incurs, until almost the very end of the book.
I have decided that I believe that the alternate reality – Marbury – that Jack and Connor are sucked into is real though. And that’s about all I have decided. I plan to read the second book, mainly because of the discovery made at the end of the first book, but I am going to take some time before hand. I just can’t quite figure out how I feel about it all. I don’t necessarily like Jack – he comes off a bit crazy; I’m not a fan of Connor – he’s such a boy; the only person I genuinely like is Griffin. And I don’t get how Marbury and the “real world” are connected. Maybe this was Smith’s goal, to leave the reader awash in confusion, to be resolved in the sequel. We’ll see I guess!
Don’t forget, the 4th is the last day to enter the giveaway for a 1TB external hard drive!