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.Writing
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
I'll just come right out and say that I do not agree with the publisher's claim that this is a "beautiful and personal novel." I was so underwhelmed with the quality of the writing. I had it in my mind that this is a modern classic and expected it to be on the more literary end of the scale. Instead just seemed pointless. I had expected that Jack's attack in the beginning of the book would have something to do with his journeys to Marbury, but the two remain largely unrelated throughout the entirety of the book. Which leads me to wonder why the attack is included. I felt like I was reading two very different, in no way connected books. One was about Marbury and one was about a boy who survives a traumatic assault.
It also suffers from some of the usual YA cliches, such as total and complete lack of adult supervision for any and all teens in the book. Not a SINGLE teen has an involved or caring parent or teacher? They're all just allowed to gad about Europe unsupervised? Where do they get money? The boys constantly rag each other about being "gay", which gets old after oh the first time. I think the author was trying to use it in an interesting way to tackle the issue of Jack being assaulted by a man, but it just came out gross.
I came away feeling like there was no point to the story. Bad things happen to Jack, he goes to Europe, he finds Marbury, things happen in Marbury with no point or resolution, book ends. I felt like the majority of the book was meant to be shocking. Graphic sexual assault and then loads and loads of violence perpetrated on and by teens and children. Unfortunately, the book doesn't make a comment on the violence, it just describes it. I could have gotten past the graphic nature of the book if I felt like it served a purpose, but it didn't. It was just there to be shocking.
I don't recommend it. I was bored and put off by the pointless graphic violence. It obviously has an audience, but it wasn't for me.