Published as a young adult novel, The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith takes “edgy” to new heights. Listening to the audiobook narrated by Mark Boyett is an even more intense experience – I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier on steroids.
The Marbury Lens starts off like realistic young adult fiction. It’s about a disaffected 16-year-old named Jack who parties with his friends and looks forward to the end of high school. Then it begins to seem more like a suspense thriller that gradually morphs into a dark fantasy creeping inexorably into your brain. Jack starts experiencing some really weird s**t.
Or else he’s just going crazy – something he considers a real possibility.
Jack has a traumatic experience one night after leaving a party alone, picks up a pair if strange-looking glasses, and starts having psychotic-break-like episodes where he seems to be leading an entirely different life, full of danger and responsibility, in a place called Marbury, but each time he returns to real life with little or no time seemingly having passed during these black-outs. Jack thinks he may be experiencing some type of post-traumatic stress, but this alternate universe (where he is himself but living in some uncertain, apocalyptic time or place) begins to seem more real than his real life.
Note — If the F-word bothers you, you do NOT want to read or listen to this one, because it is literally a constant refrain in The Marbury Lens.
I listened to The Marbury Lens months ago, and it has stayed with me although I thought the ending was too abrupt and events were left too unexplained. As it turns out, the author wrote a sequel, Passenger. But the audio edition, again narrated by Mark Boyette, only seems to be available from Audible. Boo, hiss, for publishers who sign Amazon’s exclusive rights agreements.
Listen to an excerpt here.
The Marbury Lens
Smith, Andrew, author
Boyett, Mark, narrator
Brilliance Audio, 2010
11 hours on 9 CDs
Disclosure: I borrowed this audiobook on CD from the public library. I saw this book recommended on a blog somewhere, I’m pretty sure, on a list of most disturbing young adult books or creepiest audiobooks or something like that, but I have searched and can’t find the list again. I really need to keep better notes!