Tor, 1992, 344 pages
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.
This book is a sneaky bit of genre subversion. The big idea is that Davy, the main character, discovers he can teleport, in a world that is otherwise just like ours — i.e., no super powers. So there is a bit of wish fulfillment and a bit of superheroing, as Davy, being the only teleporter he knows of, possesses almost godlike power. Despite the fact that Davy ends up taking on everyone from international terrorists to the NSA, Jumper is really not a superhero novel. It's part coming of age, part "What if?", and more science fiction than comic book.
Davy's powers drive the plot, but his history and his attempt to come to terms with it drive the book. Davy's father is a violent alcoholic, and Davy 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.
Gould does fall back on some lazy cliches — the yokel truck-drivers who make a habit of picking up runaways for roadside gang-bangs, the sinister government Men In Black who don't care about laws or the Constitution, and rich people who are without exception callous and unsympathetic. Most of the characters, however, seemed real and believable in their reactions to unbelievable situations.
While Davy is mostly kind-hearted and tries to use his powers for good, he does empty a bank vault after figuring out how his powers work, thus funding a luxurious lifestyle after he's run away from his father. He is flawed and human and kind of annoying. He is very realistic as a child of abuse with abandonment issues because of his mother's disappearance, but this also made him often weak and tentative, and while his fumbling, adolescent infatuation with an older girlfriend was also believable, it made me wince.
I really liked Jumper, despite not much liking Davy. It's a great story that tries to deal realistically with the idea of a super-powered individual.
I know there was a movie made of this book, but I was unable to find a copy. From what I have read, it doesn't much resemble the book.
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