The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith
This disturbing, yet addictive story would not let me go until I finished the book. In one long sitting, yes. It is the story of sixteen-year-old Jack, who is kidnapped and nearly raped by an insane man on the night before he is to leave for a vacation in Great Britain with his best friend Conner. Although he narrowly escapes the next morning, when he and Conner (the only person Jack tells about the traumatic ordeal) accidentally run into the abuser, Conner encourages Jack to take back control of his life, leading to terrible consequences.
Later, when Jack is getting settled in to his London hotel, he meets a stranger in a pub who gives him a mysterious pair of glasses. Looking through the glasses leads him to Marbury, an alternative world at war where Jack is responsible to two younger boys, Ben and Griffin. It is a cold, heartless realm with the three boys on the constant run from cannibalistic creatures bent on finding and killing them. Try as he might, Jack can’t stop himself from putting on the purple glasses and entering Marbury, where eventually he sees his best friend Connor, only he is one of the roving monsters trying to kill Jack, Ben and Griffin.
This book is raw, gritty, bloody and has strong language. Although it might not be for all readers, I could not put it down I was so engrossed in Jack’s dilemmas. I recommend it to readers who like alternative universes; gritty, relentless violence; and fans of dark horror like Stephen King and John Saul.