So let's start with the cover:
I personally think Feiwel and Friends has some of the best covers in the business (see EYES LIKE STARS, THE KNEEBONE BOY, or SELLING HOPE if you don't believe me) and this is another fabulous example. The stark, bold image with the only color coming from the glasses (which are also coated, so they have a sheen to them) perfectly conveys the tone of the book, and makes you wonder: what the heck is going on? Which pretty much sums up the way you feel the entire time you're reading. Seriously, WHAT is going on????
Here's how the publisher explains it in the official blurb:
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.
So...if you can't tell from the cover or the blurb, this book isn't what you'd call "light fare." The tone, language, and plot are dark and gritty, and there were certain scenes that made me very glad I wasn't reading right before bed. I've described books as haunting before--but I lied. THIS book is haunting. You can't just put it down and put it out of your mind. It stays with you, and I guarantee you, months from now I will still be thinking about it, trying to figure it out.
I don't think I can sum it up any better than the blurb on the cover:
"THE MARBURY LENS crawls inside your head and won't leave. Scary, creepy, awful, and awesome." -Michael Grant, author of GONE and HUNGER
Need more proof that the book is one-of-a-kind? How about this: Andrew told me when I met him that he never planned on publishing MARBURY. It was his editor--the fabulous Liz Szabla--who asked to read it, and when he sent her some pages she insisted he let her publish it (yeah--I know. Amazing, right?) I'm guessing that's why the book is dedicated to her. And I can see why she loved it so much. It may not be an easy book to read, but the writing is powerful and elegant, and the issues it's exploring and the questions it's raising are important.
It's definitely not the type of story I usually read, but I like to read the books of my agent-mates (even though I always feel like I belong in Hacksville when I do--I am grouped with an INSANE amount of talent. I have no idea what I'm doing there...) and a few of my friends raved about it, so I wanted to give it a try. So when I heard Andrew was speaking at a SCIBA event a couple weeks ago I made sure I was there to pick up a signed copy. See:
MAN I need a tan.
*note to self, get out of the house in daylight occasionally*
And because Andrew is so amazingly awesome (seriously, if you guys aren't following his blog you should be) he snuck me an extra copy from his personal stash, so I could have one to give away to you guys.
So if you'd like to enter to win, make sure you leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm PST on Saturday November 27th. I'll draw the winner and announce them on November 28th. International entries welcome.
For more incredible book recommendations, here's what the rest of The Bookanista's are up to: