Best friends Jack and Conner can’t stay away from Marbury. It’s partly because of their obsession with this alternate world and the unresolved war that still wages there. But it’s also because forces in Marbury—including the darkest of the dark, who were not revealed in The Marbury Lens—are beckoning the boys back in order to save their friends . . . and themselves.
The boys try to destroy the lens that transports them to Marbury. But that dark world is not so easily reckoned with. Reality and fantasy, good and evil—Andrew Smith’s masterpiece closes the loop that began with The Marbury Lens. But is it really closed? Can it ever be?
Passenger, by Andrew Smith, is a gritty, disturbing, violent, and horrific young adult book, much like The Marbury Lens. It's definitely not for everyone. But then again, if you didn't like--or couldn't handle--the first book, then you wouldn't be continuing onto the second. With that said, I loved Passenger, maybe even more than The Marbury Lens.
The book starts with Jack, Conner, Ben, and Griffin, trying to destroy the lens, to be rid of Marbury for good, and end up right back there in that one fateful act. But it's not the Marbury they remember. The Marbury Jack returns to is a twisted, nightmarish, post-apocalyptic version of his hometown of Glenbrook. Thus beginning his journey home, which takes him to many worlds--or not-worlds--all versions of Marbury and Glenbrook that have been transformed for the worse. Jack seems to be locked in a butterfly effect downward spiral. Every world he travels to seems to send him further from home to where if feels like he'll never get the pieces of the lens back together again to make things right.
Jack, the narrator, feels responsible for everything that's happened and the danger his friends are now in. The Marbury lens is also reminiscent of Sméagol with the One Ring, holding an obsessive power over those who've looked through it and seen another world. My precious. I believe part of the obsession comes from the fact that the characters are existing in all of these parallel worlds simultaneously, and while the primary consciousness leaves one world to enter another, the body from the world left behind goes on with its daily routines like the person's still there, but missing any memory of another world. I find that idea fascinating.
Smith's gritty descriptions and elegant prose drags the readers into Jack's nightmare so we're fighting right beside him, trying to help him find a way out. We get to learn much more about Marbury in this book, and like those who've seen it through the lens, we have that pull to go back, even if just for a glimpse. And amidst all the action and horror, at its heart, Passenger is a character driven story, a touching tale of friendship and the sacrifices true friends make for each other. Marbury is a world you won't soon forget, and neither is the book Passenger.