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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Marina is set in Barcelona during 1979 and 1980, and it delivers a vivid portrait of the city at that time. The story hints at the aftereffects of World War II and the legacy of the Franco years in Spain, but the plot is primarily focused on the travails of Oscar, Marina, and German.
In its depiction of the relationship between its main characters, Marina emphasizes the importance of friendship and compassion. It also demonstrates the folly of playing God and exacting vengeance.
Positive Role Models
Oscar skips school and neglects his studies, but he's entranced by Marina and her fragile father, German. Together, they try to protect each other from poverty, illness, and loneliness.
Violence & Scariness
A strong current of violence runs through Marina, especially toward the end. The novel includes many chases through the sewers, and there's a fatal gunfight, arson, and death by a broken neck. In general, the novel's horrific aspects are not described in great detail.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Oscar has a powerful crush on Marina, but she rebuffs his awkward advances for most of the novel. Ultimately, they're able to express their chaste affection for each other, and there's one kiss.
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A handful of uses of "damn," "hell," and "bastard."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Oscar's adventures take him into an after-hours bar.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Marina is a gothic novel featuring death, madness, and deformity. Set in Barcelona on the cusp of the 1980s, it features many of the trappings of gothic literature: doomed love, scientific experiments gone awry, monstrous creatures, and trips through the sewers. Sexual content is limited to a crush and one kiss, and there are only a handful of uses of "damn," "hell," and "bastard." There's a fair amount of violence, including fatal gunfights, stabbings, and a theater fire.
Is It Any Good?
MARINA is a novel that indulges in big themes and sweeping gestures. Its plot is fairly implausible, but author Carlos Ruiz Zafon gets away with its preposterousness through sheer conviction and manipulative emotion. Fans of gothic literature will appreciate its themes of madness, doomed love, and scientific experiments gone awry, and the final chapters are likely to bring a tear to the eye.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate