Jumper by Stephen Gould is a contemporary science fiction novel published in 1992. I came looking for this book after seeing the movie that is based (very, very, loosely) on the novel. I was drawn to the story by a very simple question. “What would you do if you could teleport?” David Rice gets a chance to answer that question when he accidentally “jumps” to the public library to avoid being beaten by his abusive father. David decides to use his powers to escape his past and run away from home.
Some time later, after getting mugged and having to face survival on the streets, David uses his powers to rob a bank and enjoys a life of travel, reading, and enjoying the delights of the New York culture scene. David meets and falls in love with a tourist named Millie and decides to hide his abilities from her. In addition, he decides to find his mother who abandoned him when he was a child.
The plot thickens significantly in the latter half of the book when the New York Police and later the National Security Agency become aware of David and his powers. They make the mistake of kidnapping Millie and earn the ire of a angry and desperate teleporter.
I enjoyed the story but one thing that bothered me was the frequency of profanity and sexual references. At times David was also a confusing character. He clearly has some serious psychological issues because of his past but occasionally it seemed like Gould would turn on a switch labeled “generic psychological angst” in which David would go from a smart, independent teleporter with some clear issues to a psychotic mental patient who is a danger to himself and others. I felt that David’s mental state and struggles could have been portrayed in a more clear and effective manner.
In my opinion the physical use of jumping and the science behind it was well thought out and explained satisfactorily. I also felt that David behaved logically for someone who discovers he has a super power. Overall I would say the book was a solid read, a 6.5/10 or so on an Tyler’s Scale of Book Rating Awesomeness.