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Book Review – Jumper by Steven Gould

Book Description:

An American Library Association “Best Book for Young Adults”, An International Reading Association “Young Adults’ Choice” and source of the 2008 feature film ‘Jumper‘ starring Samuel Jackson, Hayden Christensen, and Rachel Bilson.

Written in the 1990s by American author Steven Gould, Jumper tells the story of Davy Rice as he escapes his tortured childhood to explore the world via teleportation and find his long lost mother.

At seventeen the world is at your feet! especially if you can teleport.

David Rice barely remembers his mother. She left his alcoholic father when Davy was very young. She left Davy too, and since then all of William Rice’s abusive anger has been focused on his young teenage son. One evening, as he is about to receive another brutal beating, Davy shuts his eyes and wishes to be safe. When he opens them again, he finds himself in his small town’s library. Slowly, he realises he is very special, he can teleport. Armed with his new power, Davy sets out with new purpose: he will leave his abusive home and find his long lost mother. Davy’s confidence grows as his skills do, but they also draw unwanted attention and soon Davy finds that he too is hunted.


Jumper by Steven Gould is an exciting adventure story with a pretty interesting take on teleportation that *young adult readers with a taste for the SciFi might enjoy. It was published way back in 1992 (so that makes the book 20-years-old this year!), but I have to say that the book held up pretty well for me right now in 2012. Plus, bonus points from me for being a pretty cool time-capsule for the pre-internet 1990s!  (*Note for parents who supervise their kids’ reading – the main character here is sexually active, although those scenes are never graphic)

I was pretty much hooked with Jumper right from the opening paragraphs wherein 17-year-old Davy Rice recounts how he first discovered his gift – when he inexplicably escapes a brutal beating at his father’s hands by ‘jumping’ instantaneously to a safe place. (I particularly liked that touch about Davy’s character being a bit of a bookworm whose ‘safe place’ was his town’s public library!) Davy takes that chance to run away from his abusive alcoholic dad, and well, he pretty much jumps from the frying pan to the fire (so to speak) and ends up being almost gang-raped next. And that’s just the opening chapter!

Life as a runaway is no walk in the park. So, I wasn’t really surprised that Davy isn’t in the I’ll-only-use-my-powers-for-the-good frame of mind when he winds up penniless and desperate after being beaten up and mugged in 1990s New York City. Turns out that being able to teleport can come in pretty handy when you need to get in & out of a locked bank vault undetected 😉 It isn’t Davy’s finest moment, but his character does a great deal of growing up later on. Davy starts off as this terrified lonely abused victim whose only defense in life was to ‘escape’ (his own mom had set that example by abandoning him when he was 12-years-old). Davy later becomes a much different, empowered and more admirable character, and I liked that as a reader, I was able to join him in his personal journey.

My favorite scenes in the book were the ones where Davy spends time honing his new ability and learning to work within his limitations. There’s a lot of traveling to different exotic locales that had me wishing I was ‘jumping’ right along with him. I liked that even though the author didn’t really go into the nitty-gritty of teleportation, he did provide some believable & logical framework/rules for Davy to work with.

For me, the weakest part of the book was Davy’s romance with 21-year-old college student Millie. I would have much preferred it if Mr Gould had given Davy a sidekick/best friend instead of a girlfriend as a support system.  I mean I got why a 17-year-old runaway would be enamored with the first girl who shows him any interest, but Millie just struck me as ambivalent about her relationship with Davy from the start, so I could never totally believe her declarations of ‘love’ later on. The clunky dialogue that Mr Gould saddled Millie with also didn’t help matters.

Jumper by Steven Gould (Tor Books) is available on Amazon as a Kindle edition, Mass Market Paperback and Audible audio edition. *also available at Amazon UK.

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