Genre: Fiction, speculative fiction
Synopsis: Jack and his best friend are about to go on the trip of a lifetime to England. But when Jack arrives, a man named Henry spots him and claims he’s always known him. The problem is that Jack has no idea who this man is. However, Henry leaves behind a pair of purple glasses, which Jack discovers leads him to an alternate universe called Marbury, where war is rampant and his best friend is trying to kill him.
Review: Well…this was a book I read. I was at first excited to read this, because it looked like something I wouldn’t normally read, and I like branching out, but I think if it wasn’t for the class I had to read this for, I probably would have trusted my instincts. Not to be that person, but…this book was so clearly written by a man. I’m sure Andrew Smith is a nice person, but this book was so difficult to get through that many of my classmates didn’t even bother to finish it.
Of course, that might have been because of the amount of rape and molestation and murder that happens in the first fifty pages. My problem isn’t necessarily with those happening in a book–if I had more time, I’d go into my feelings about putting trauma into a book–but my problem is that this trauma seemed to be there simply to be there. It wasn’t to show how Jack was coping with what had happened to him, or to show how he has PTSD or other trauma related syndrome. It just…was there. And I got the feeling that what happened with Horvath, his assaulter was supposed to lead to some sort of explanation, possibly one having to do with Marbury (especially since Jack thinks throughout the book that Horvath did something to his brain), but the trail just leads to nowhere. And the airplane scene? I mean…at least the Horvath thing was trying to go somewhere.
However, there were some things I did like about this book. Namely, the switch between first and third preson. There’s something about switching so violently between points of view that creates a jarring effect (and that jarring effect is perfect given that Jack so constantly switches between our world and Marbury). I also really loved the friendship between Jack and his best friend (even if it was rife with homophobia……….).
This actually leads me to the romances in this book. I think this book takes place over the course of maybe…two weeks to a month? And yet both of the boys have found some English hottie and have fallen irrevocably in love with them. And vice versa. Which, okay, you’re young, you have lots of feelings…except the women in this book are just sortof…there. They aren’t even in Marbury? They were just very flat, and I really wanted to know more about them, especially as they’ve fallen in love hard with Jack, who is not only traumatized but addicted to going to Marbury. That’s not easy, yo.
Okay, I’ve put off the main part of this review for too long. Marbury. What is it? We just don’t know. It’s an alternate/parallel universe where everyone has doubles (except for the ladies, apparently), and Jack simultaneously knows nothing and everything about it. There’s also ghosts? And a war. And huge bugs. And everyone’s scrambling and struggling to survive. And also, there’s no explanation. Possibly, the explanation lies with Horvath. Probably not, though. I spent the whole book just being like, okay, we’re gonna find something out–Horvath totally did something to Jack’s brain and maybe Marbury is a coping/dissociation mechanism? Except that doesn’t get explained. So maybe Marbury is real? Slightly more possible. But the history within Marbury? I have no idea.
Too much is left to speculation in this book. I recognize that this is a series, and that more will likely be explained in the later books, so if this is something that actually sounds interesting to you, please tell me if anything does actually get explained. I really wanted to like this book. But I just couldn’t. Alas.