The first time Davy jumped was when his dad was beating him. The second time was when a trucker tried to rape..Show More » 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.
Reflex is the second book in Steven Gould’s JUMPER series. Ten years have passed since we left Davy ..Show More »and Millie. Now they’re married and Davy works occasionally for the National Security Agency. On one of his trips to Washington D.C. to meet with his contact there, he gets drugged and kidnapped by a group of people who want to use his powers for their own evil purposes. As they work to get Davy under their control, Millie uses her skills as a psychologist to search for him. She needs some help from the government, but she isn’t sure who she can trust. There seem to be leaks in high places.
Just like Jumper, Reflex is pretty compelling reading for the most part. Davy’s experiences as a captive are fascinating as we watch the bad guys use operant conditioning to try to bend him to their wills. This eventually starts to pall, however, because Davy spends almost the entire story in one small room.
Millie is the more active character in Reflex. Some of her experiences are really endearing, such as when she befriends a homeless schizophrenic woman who may have information about Davy’s whereabouts. This woman has tardive dyskinesia which makes her repulsive to others on the street, but as a psychologist, Millie understands the disorder and is able to see beyond it.
While I appreciated the focus on Millie, who’s a lot more mature than Davy was in Jumper, and who had some interesting ethical dilemmas to deal with here, one significant part of her story may ruin the book for some readers. Since it’s been reported in some of the blurbs for Reflex, and since it happens early in the story, I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say that suddenly Millie can jump, too. While that certainly adds excitement to the story, it really stretches the bounds of belief. Millie’s jumping is not explained except to say that perhaps after ten years of being transported around the world by Davy, Millie’s body just figured out how. That’s an easy out that many science fiction fans just won’t be pleased with. There is a scientist in this story who works with Davy to try to understand how the teleportation occurs, so Steven Gould does try to alleviate our discontent, but it doesn’t quite measure up. In other words, the JUMPER series, at least so far, is very “lite” science fiction. The jumping feels more like magic than anything else, but Davy lives in our world and there are no other traces of magic, so it doesn’t quite work. This series probably would be best classified as a thriller.
If you can get over that, though, Reflex is an exciting story that will almost certainly please fans of Jumper. I listened to the wonderful audio version produced by Audible Frontiers. Macleod Andrews is an excellent narrator. Reflex shifts perspective — it’s no longer just Davy’s point of view — and Andrews does all of it beautifully.
I'll start by saying, I chose to listen to this novel despite other reviews because I didn't want to miss any plot points leading into the 4th book, w..Show More »hich looks interesting. This was a mistake. There are no plot developments in this book. Nothing of lasting import happens. I suggest skipping ahead.
Where the first book was about Davey resolving emotional trauma, and the second was about his imprisonment, this one is almost entirely about their daughter and her trials as a teenager. The only problem with this character-centric story is that the character is uninteresting. She is the perfect child in every way. She's good at sports, a genius, beautiful, loved by all, has super powers that she uses frequently in front of people without anyone noticing, and doesn't fail at a single thing through the whole book. In short, she's not a realistic human being.
As other reviewers have said, this is very much a high school drama (heavy on the drama) and has almost nothing to do with Davey and Millie. Not my cup of tea to start with but I have enjoyed such things from time to time. However, the character issues make this a bad book even for that genre. To be fair, there is a good bit of action. Cent does her share of butt kicking but she always wins without effort. There is no suspense. The only bit that piqued my interest was when the NSA came into it but it was over within 15 minutes and nothing came of it. All the more disappointing after I spent the whole book HOPING the NSA would capture Cent to put a stop to her nonsense.
There are other problems as well. Cent has a nemesis that is pure evil to the extent that she has the same problem as Cent's character. No shades of gray. She also has a posse who are all, likewise, one-dimensional. Gould tried to remedy this with an explanation for their behavior at the end but it was unconvincing to me, not to mention disturbing...
Cent discovers that she can use her teleportation ability to manipulate her speed. For one, I have trouble believing that Davey never thought of this, considering it was he who realized decades earlier that teleporting effects frames of relative motion. That aside, Cent uses this ability at literally every opportunity with little regard for observers. Issues with its use are also overlooked. For example, she uses it to gain inhuman bursts of speed running, ignoring the fact that the sudden acceleration would cause her to trip. Moreover, all the effects to her body of high speed impact and sudden acceleration are ignored. This might not be so jarring if the author had not, up to this point, given significant consideration to the physics of "jumping" previously. I had very much enjoyed the attempts to make the physics consistent and this oversight was a disappointment.
Then there's the old problem of the characters having seemingly read and memorized every book in existence and teenagers speaking in very unnatural manners for their age. Presumably, these teenagers converse as the author himself would if he could go back in time. Not only does Cent manifest this but also her boyfriend and, to some extent, her friends.
The narrator was wonderful and deserves none of the blame. She did a great job with making Cent's voice sound like that of a teenager and was pleasant to listen to. The male voices were a bit off but only to the usual degree when mimicking the opposite sex.
I will probably still go on to the 4th book because the synopsis sounds much more exciting but I can't say this one was encouraging.
If you have seen the movie, you will want to read (listen to) Griffin's Story which begins to answer questions raised by the film. This prequil descri..Show More »bes very enjoyably how Griffin became a loner, a hunter. It is full of emotional moments as Griff learns to use caution and his "gift". This story is, however, inappropriate for kids. Audible has it as 8th grade or higher. I would suggest age 16 or higher. The book contains language and subject matter out side that which should be considered by those of a lesser age.