So I was given the proper blessing to go ahead and publish the Booklist starred review for my next-up novel, Passenger.
One down for Jack and his friends. And enemies. It's always nice for an author to get that first honest-to-goodness review overwith in a positive way -- kind of like pulling off a Band-Aid or something.
In any event, here it is, with my sincere thanks to Ian Chipman and the folks at Booklist:
Oct 2012. 480 p. Feiwel and Friends, hardcover, $17.99. (9781250004871).
Things got mighty grim for Jack in The Marbury Lens (2010), but it seems that being abducted by a sexual predator and then sucked through a set of glasses, in and out of the ruined wasteland of Marbury, was just the first circle of the hell. Jack decides, along with friends Conner, Ben, and Griffin, to destroy the glasses, but smashing the lens only results in fracturing the boundaries between worlds and shuttling Jack and crew through progressively more tortured realities, where savage creatures hunt down boys and disfigured corpses outpopulate the living. The first book's emotionally eviscerating gut-punch came mostly from Jack’s tormented wavering between the real world and Marbury. This followup becomes almost completely unmoored from reality's anchor, an experimentally crazy tour through a junk-sick fever dream comprised of Jack’s anguish, guilt, anger, grief, and self-loathing. The drawn-out, hellish trip is told in frantic, convulsive prose that festers around the nauseating horrors Jack witnesses in Marbury and the traumatic psychological wounds he can’t stop prying open. Where it all leads to both surprises and recalibrates what the whole trauma-drama has been about. Or not. Smith is hardly afraid to leave things open ended, unspoken, and all the more memorable for it. With this uncompromising two-book saga, Smith has securely carved out his spot on the darkest fringes of YA lit. — Ian Chipman