Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jumper, Stephen Gould (1992)

Having recently viewed the movie of the same name, based on this novel, which was released in 2008, and been recommended this book in spite of my poor opinions about the film, I approached this book somewhat warily. Would this be simply a shallow, unsubstantial book, thick dollops of action trying to disguise an empty plot? Or would there be something more substantial to the book than this?

I am quite pleased to report that the latter was the case. For those that skipped the movie when it was released, the movie “Jumper” was just a string of exciting but shallow scenes of some people who teleport, fighting other people that don’t like those people that can teleport, all tied together with a basic and mentally unchallenging plot. In contrast, the book contains far more variety and depth than what the movie ever did, and does not follow the same plot outline at all. If only the producers had actually read the book they were adapting… But instead of wasting time lamenting what could have been, let us forget the movie – the less said the sooner forgotten – and let us concentrate our attentions on the novel instead.

The novel Jumper is a story about teenageer, David Rice, who finds out one day that he has the power to teleport to any place that he has been previously. After David runs away from home, he has to deal with a lot of problems that result from – he can’t get a job, doesn’t have any ID that he can use, and can’t earn any money. There are plenty of other obstacles that David encounters during the story – some of these obstacles are related to his powers, how he uses them, and the consequences of this, some are related to his new circumstances, and some are simply related to David growing up and becoming a more mature person. I won’t go into this in any detail, because this is part of why I enjoyed the book so much. Yes, this is a book intended for young adults, but it’s a young adult book with some quite heavy themes and ideas – David has to deal with abandonment, abuse, and revenge, among other ideas, ponder the morality of his actions, and there are some good intellectual discussions there, too. Suffice to say there are lots of different ideas bustling for attention here.

It is an intelligent and exciting book, but Gould also manages to deal with David’s emotions (and the emotions of other characters, for that matter) in a realistic, but not overly straining manner. David does suffer from angst and guilt from the actions that he takes, we are made aware of these emotions and how they affect him, we even sympathise, to some extent, with his situation, but this is not over-played, either, so that it over-shadows the story itself.

In short, I quite enjoyed this book – great ideas, a fast-paced story, well-drawn characters. I must recommended this novel, whether you read books with the “young-adult” marketing moniker on them, and doubly so if you did not enjoy the movie released last year of the same title. 5/5.

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