What if you could go anywhere in the world, in the blink of an eye? Where would you go? What would you do
Davy can teleport. To survive, Davy must learn to use and control his power in a world that is more violent and complex than he ever imagined. But mere survival is not enough for him. Davy wants to find others like himself, others who can Jump.
©1992 Steven Gould (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"An exceptionally well-organize debut, with thoughtful ideas, a controlled plot, and characters-particularly the young protagonist-portrayed with insight and compassion." (Kirkus)
"Gould's warm, delightful, and compulsively readable novel dispalys assured storytelling skill." (Publishers Weekly)
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally published at FanLit.
The first time Davy jumped was when his dad was beating him. The second time was when a trucker tried to rape him. Both times Davy ended up in his favorite place — the local public library. Soon Davy learned that he could control his teleportation, so he left home and started a new life in New York City. His new skill, the ability to instantly transport himself to any place he’s ever visited, helped him achieve the freedom he always desired. At first Davy lives for himself, happy to be away from school and his father, but when a terrorist attack affects him personally, he decides to use his talent to get revenge.
Jumper, by Steven Gould, is an action-packed exciting adventure about a likeable teenager who has an awesome superpower. Davy is mostly easy to believe in. He’s a little too urbane for his age and experience — he quickly transforms from high school dropout to fine-dining connoisseur, and I’ve never met a teenager as well-read as Davy — but other than that he acts like a normal kid. He’s a bit selfish and makes some impulsive mistakes, but he genuinely wants to be a good guy. He’s got an emo streak that’s a little annoying, but that’s understandable since he’s dealing with abuse and abandonment issues. He’s also worried that he could become an alcoholic like his father and he feels guilty about not telling his new girlfriend the truth about himself.
What I liked best about Davy’s story is that what Davy decides to do with his power is completely believable. Sometimes I read stories about people with really cool superpowers and I think “if I had that power, I’d do such and such” and I’m usually disappointed that the character didn’t think of that. Often the problem is that the character is just too ethical to do the fun stuff that normal teenagers would fantasize about doing if they had superpowers. But not Davy. Some of the things Davy does are selfish, some are vengeful, and some are just fun.
And fun is about all there is to Jumper. There’s an exciting plot and lots of cool tricks with the jumping, but there’s not much depth beyond that. There’s no explanation for the teleportation and there aren’t any other speculative elements, so the book hardly deserves the classification of “science fiction.” Nothing about Jumper changed me or made me think, but it definitely entertained me. When I finished Jumper I started the sequel, Reflex.
Jumper takes place around 1990 and was first published in 1992, before 9/11, so the way that Islam and terrorism were viewed and dealt with is very different than they are today. This, plus the lack of cell phones and Internet, will make Jumper feel a little dated to teen readers, but to me it just felt nostalgic since I was around Davy’s age at the time when the story takes place. However, Reflex takes place ten years later (published in 2004) and a third book, Impulse, was just published last month.
I listened to Audible Frontier’s version of Jumper which was narrated by the incredibly awesome Macleod Andrews. Macleod is so good that I’d forget he was narrating. It just felt like Davy was telling me his story — totally convincing. If you’re an audio reader, I’d recommend Jumper on audio. If you’re not an audio reader yet, this would be a good one to start with.
Jumper has been marketed to a YA audience but I won’t be giving it to my kids. The abuse and attempted rape are disturbing, it’s rather violent, and the language and sex aren’t really appropriate either. By the way, you probably know there is a movie based on Jumper. I haven’t seen it, but have heard it’s pretty bad, and those who have seen the movie and read the book report that the book is much different and much better.
(Disclaimer: If you saw the movie, then you still know practically nothing about this book. They do not share the same plot, or really even the characters. "Griffin's Story" is actually set in the MOVIE universe, not this one.)
What would you do if you could teleport?
This wasn't high-sci-fi or high-fantasy. The world is more or less our world, except for this one kid who can teleport. He's got real problems with his abusive dad, his girlfriend, the cop downstairs who beats his wife.... oh, yeah, and the NSA.
Definitely worth reading. Will inspire a lot of fantasies and daydreams.
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
The concept of the story is unique. The writing never falls into the boring range. The main character reads a lot and though very young, has a complex vocabulary and seems more mature then his age.
I gave it only three stars, as I did not like the direction the story went or some of the inconsistencies to the characters. Two Thirds of the way into the book, it became a super hero story. I am not a fan of Super Heroes. There was no consequence for jumping. Usually in a book like this, there is a price to pay for the power and the price paid usually adds to the story and how often the character wields his power. The main character jumps willy nilly all the time. In America we do not show people being blown up. The main character's mom leaves her twelve year old boy with an abusive husband. The kid steals a million dollars from the bank with no plans for paying them back. His girlfriend has a problem with him stealing from a bank, but not from Disney World.
I also believe Gould had problems figuring out if he was writing an adult book or a teen book. It read different ways at different times.
All in all it is not a bad book, but I will spend my money on better.
The cover leads you to believe it's a schmaltzy young adult novel, it really needs a redesign to convey what a great story lies within. I never would have used my credit on this except for some reviews from other folks saying how really well done this audiobook is - I'm glad I took a chance on it. I enjoyed the movie and was happy to find the book is much better, with more philosophical questions and deeper relationships, and more reality portrayed. The narrator is excellent and fills Davy's role perfectly for me.
I'm not a heavy sci fi person, but I do enjoy sci fi movies, and I enjoyed this book enough to download what I believe is the second book in the series, Reflex.
Right up there near the top.
This was my first exposure to Macleod Andrews. He was easy to listen to and follow. Very engaging.
I was hesitant about this book because I thought the movie was only so-so. But, I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed the story and the charactors so much more than the movie. The narration was perfect and made listening easy and the story engaging. I recommended this book to my daughter (she's 26) and she enjoyed it as much as I did.
There are few things better than a good story well told!
At least you will not want to stop listening. Very good story, well written and narrated. Mr. Gould is a master of the "what would you do if...." He puts you in the story and what a story! I'm making Steven Gould one of my go-to authors.
I stumbled upon Steven Goulds books in the Jumper series through one of Audible's sales. I bought the second book (Reflex) at the sale and then bought the first one. Jumper is not an easy listen, it is sometimes a very heavy experience. So if you are the kind of listener who only wants to be excited and never saddened, you should perhaps look elsewhere. All things considered, I still loved the book as well as the sequel.
Since I don't believe in spoilers I won't give away the story. Instead I will borrow a phrase from one of my favorite tv-shows: "You'll laugh, you'll cry, it will change your life".
Enjoy the adventure
Reminded me of Spiderman. Instead of “Spidy” powers, the hero teleports to fight badies and other do-gooder activities. Also similar to Spiderman, David Rice (aka, the main character) has a bit of a temper which leads to rash actions and sometimes mean spirited pranks on those who provoke him. He is also viewed with suspicion by the authorities who are determined to catch him. And yes, like Spidy, he has girlfriend troubles.
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.
This book is so much better than the movie (which I really enjoyed). The way Macleod Andrews reads the story it's almost like listening to a young man tell his own story. I found it very enjoyable to listen too and it has become one of my favorite books.
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