David's Reviews > Jumper

Jumper by Steven Gould
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it was amazing
bookshelves: audiobook, science-fiction, contemporary, superheroes, teenagers, terrorism, young-adult
Recommended for: teleporters, Men In Black, teenage boys dating college girls,

This is marketed as a science fiction novel, but it's really a superhero story. But a superhero story written as a "serious" science fiction novel, in which the premise is that the "superhero" is the only one of his kind. Ever thought "Yeah, superpowers in reality would change the world, not just lead to a bunch of costumed gangs beating on each other in the streets of New York?" This book explores that a little, though Davy, our would-be hero, doesn't change the world, much.

Davy is a teleporter. By the usual standards of superhero teleporters, he's very powerful - he soon learns he can teleport anywhere he's been before, anywhere in the world, in literally a blink. He can also teleport other objects and people with him, and when he experiments with velocity (i.e. jumping off of cliffs and teleporting), he learns there are some weird nullification of momentum effects as well.

Davy's powers drive the book, but Davy's history and personality make it more a book about a guy with a superpower than a book about a superpower. Davy's father is a violent alcoholic, and he discovers his power for the first time when he jumps away from a beating. Then he runs away, and uses his power for the second time to escape a bunch of would-be rapist truck drivers.

Here and a couple of other places are where the author gets a bit cliched - yokel lowlife truck-drivers that seem to have walked off the set of Deliverance, there is some soapboxing about freedom and government abuse of authority when Davy winds up crossing the NSA, and they find out about his powers, and a few ruminations on how terrible it is to be poor and/or homeless as callous rich people walk past you. Davy is hardly perfect, though - he is generally benevolent and tries to do good with his powers, but that's after pretty much the first thing he does, once he figures them out, is empty a bank vault.

Davy is flawed and human and kind of annoying. He is very realistic as a child of abuse, compounded by the issue of a runaway mother, so in this sense his "broken-ness" was understandable, but it also made him kind of a wimp, and while I suppose his fumbling, adolescent infatuation with his older girlfriend was also believable, it made me wince.

Jumper gets more interesting as Davy finds himself drawn into a cat-and-mouse game with terrorists and the NSA. The latter is a pet peeve of mine, which also showed the author's biases and ignorance (the NSA does not chase US citizens around on US soil! Even if they are considered terrorists, that would be a job for the FBI!). And it was a bit Stephen King-ish with the government playing the usual role of sinister, unsympathetic Men In Black. (Davy even references Firestarter explicitly, which is another thing that made the book great - Davy is pretty genre-savvy.)

I really liked the book, despite not much liking Davy. It's a great story that tries to take a "realistic" view of what would happen to someone who's the only super-powered person (so far as he knows) in the world, and the human interaction makes it much more than an action-adventure story.
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Reading Progress

June 24, 2015 – Started Reading
June 24, 2015 – Shelved
June 24, 2015 – Shelved as: audiobook
June 24, 2015 – Shelved as: science-fiction
June 24, 2015 – Shelved as: contemporary
July 1, 2015 – Shelved as: superheroes
July 1, 2015 – Shelved as: teenagers
July 1, 2015 – Shelved as: terrorism
July 1, 2015 – Shelved as: young-adult
July 1, 2015 – Finished Reading

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