Friday, April 12, 2013

Don't Hate the Game, Hate the Player

I can't stand Hayden Christensen, and I've made no secret of this.  The only movie I ever liked him in was Shattered Glass, and even in that his performance was somewhere between wooden and melodramatic.  (You should totally see that movie, though.)

So I never watched the movie Jumper, even though the premise sounded great, because the movie looked horrible.  And by all accounts, it's a very, very bad movie.  So why, exactly, did I pick up the book?  Even more startling, why did I pay money for it?  I honestly can't remember--it was definitely a review somewhere, but I'm pretty sure not on one of the blogs I read regularly (though I apologize if I'm misremembering that).  It's the first book in a while that I was really sold on by the free Kindle sample from Amazon, so way to market, guys.

The novel Jumper is by Steven Gould, and you should ignore the cover you see over there.  None of the covers are actually very good.  The book, however, is so much better than you'd expect. 

First, ignore the blurb for the movie, because while the premise may be the same (17-year-old guy suddenly discovers he can teleport), the plot is totally different.  There's no ancient war between his people and their enemies, no secret cabal dedicated to his destruction.  There's no complicated underworld he enters.  That's the best part of the book, really--a large portion of it is just about what you do when you suddenly discover you have a superpower.  It's very much like the beginning of Spider-Man

Davy's father is beating the tar out of him for the millionth time when he suddenly finds himself at the library.  He assumes he had some sort of blackout, but soon he realizes that he has the ability to teleport, or jump, to anyplace he's ever been.  He learns to control the power, escapes from his father, and sets out to build himself a life.  Some things are easy (transportation), some things are morally tough for a kid on his own (he can't get a job without a Social Security card), and some things are just as hard for Davy as they would be for anyone else.

There's a lot of great how-to and worldbuilding here--where does Davy go when he can go anywhere?  If money doesn't matter, how do you live, and why?  The first half of the book is just this wonderful accretion of figuring out how this thing works and what to do with it.  In the second half of the book, (action hero voice) things get personal, and Davy takes on terrorism, the NSA, and ghosts from his own past.  But can he find his way to a future?

There are flaws here--there's a girl who's very much his strong, nurturing woman friend.  But really, this book is a bit of a thought experiment in the emotional and social effects of teleportation, and that is kind of my favorite kind of book.  I'm not going to say you should run right out and read it, but I do wish there were more books like this on my to-read list.

1 comment:

auntadadoom said...

Innnteresting. Minor bit of personal trivia, Cej bought Jumper (the movie) for me and we watched it the night we got engaged. It was terrible, as you say.

So are you going to seek out the rest of the series, do you think? Or get out while the going's OK?