Tuesday, 29 November 2011

If you haven't read it yet Review: Jumper

Title: Jumper
Author: Steven Gould
Series: #1 Jumper
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, soft sci-fi
Age restriction? 13+ for adult themes, sexual violence, abuse and other explicitly described violence, including terrorism.
Published: 5 February 2008

Buy: Jumper: A Novel @ Amazon

An intense character-driven book with much more meat and a completely different story than the movie.

DESCRIPTION (via Goodreads): 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.(more...)

REVIEW: Let's just first get this out of the way: YES I LIKED THE MOVIE (mostly because Samuel L. Jackson ;p). Lots. It was fun, exhilarating and all that jazz an action/adventure movie these days must be. But it was also, not to fine a point on it, as shallow as a puddle after a summer shower, also as these kinds of movies tend to be. Despite that, I enjoyed the movie for what it was, but the book is something completely different from the movie. Best you sort that out in your mind right quick (luckily, being a veteran Stephen King reader, this is an exercise that comes easier to me).

While the movie is all about Davy and how he tries to escape the Paladins, who want to get their evil hooks in him and stop him from jumping or whatevs, the Paladins don't even exist in the book. I found this worked excellently for the book, turning it to more the story of a boy who's trying to literally escape his abusive past but keeps getting drawn back in while having to make hard choices about morality, privacy, agency and responsibility.

Other stuff I liked:
  • The author pulls no punches. There are some violent scenes in the movie, but in my view it's nothing a teenager these days hadn't seen a million times on TV or in a game and here it's not just gratuitous. (PROTIP: If you're looking for a book for your child to read, looking at the AGE OF THE PROTAGONIST is the best way to see if it's in your child's age bracket. Seriously, how do people not know this?)
  • I enjoyed the voice of this book. Davy is a great character and is written in such a way that even when he says something in his own head, we can see what the thought behind it is, even if he doesn't necessarily have that level of knowledge yet.
  • I really liked how seriously Davy took responsibility and how hard he tries to convince himself that it's okay, he doesn't need to feel guilty, and yet he still can't help but feel guilty about things he can't necessarily control. 
  • I couldn't put the story down. Although the main conflict isn't introduced until much later in the book, the narrative creates enough conflict with Davy and his coming to terms with his powers to keep you enjoying page after page even before the real "story" starts. Personally I wouldn't plot it like that, but it worked in this instance and some of the events in this "backstory introduction" become very important when looking at and understanding some of David's later choices.
  • Solid ending. Always good, especially good here, even though it's the first of a series.
  • Subtle yet effective glance at some feminist themes in relationships: the problems the dominant narrative of sex as a transaction creates for the individuals involved who don't want to follow that narrative yet know no other way, things like that mentioned in passing, things most girls and some guys have to deal with and normally sooner rather than later was really gratifying and added a bit of (sorely needed) depth to David's romance with Millie.
  • I didn't really feel the romance between David and Millie. There were great aspects around this arc (see the last bullet above), but I found most of the romance to be slightly passionless and pretty meh. Could definitely have been handled better.
  • The descriptions in the action scene sometimes went by too fast, especially with his jumping thrown in. It was hard for me to maintain a sense of what exactly was going on in the battle scenes.
RECOMMENDED FOR: "Soft" Sci-fi fans, those who like both contemporary YA and urban fantasy, anyone looking for a male protagonist, anyone who felt the movie slightly "lacking" and is willing to read this book as a YA and not a hardcore science fantasy. Just don't bother with the second book and you'll be golden.