Cent lives an entirely unsocial life. Not surprising seeing as her parents are both on the run from both the government and terrorists for her entire sixteen years of life. Cent has grown up in a cabin in the Yukon, the nearest town being over 100 miles away. But they aren't cut off. Millie and David both have the ability to teleport, or "jump", and it is with this ability that they aid in relief work, go shopping in Paris, visit Australia in the middle of the night, get ice cream in New York City, and they can do so in the blink of an eye. Cent was not born with this ability, but when she is caught in an avalanche, she finds that a life threatening situation is just the jump start she needed to develop of new ability. And what does she do with such an ability? Cent wants to go to school. For the first time, the willful and too much like her parents Cent, will be with kids her own age. Soon though, Cent is the focus of the school bully and a simple schoolyard disagreement becomes a whole lot more than she bargained for. Meanwhile, Cent's parents must track down an old enemy who is bent on controlling all jumpers.
Written in 1992, Jumper was the first book in what has now become a trilogy, although the first book could definitely be considered a stand-alone novel. Unlike the travesty of a film that was made, Jumper really caught my imagination as a teenager. I appreciate its depth and complexities and especially love that even though it is about a young man who can teleport, it isn't a book about teleportation. The sequel, Reflex, published in 2004, has David kidnapped and subsequently tortured and his wife Millie develops the ability to "jump". Now this third novel is set 17 years after Reflex, and in the hands of Cent, jumping is a whole new world.
I have always debated whether Jumper would be considered young adult. Although I read it as a teenager and it was reprinted with a more YA friendly cover in 1995, there are definitely some elements such as rape, terrorism, murder, alcoholism, and abuse that can feel rather adult. The second book goes easier on these subjects, but the characters have aged beyond their teens and are very adult. Impulse however, is entirely a teen novel. Although there are chapters with Millie and David narrating, it is Cent's story. She drives the plot forward with the rush of excitement that only a teenager can have.
Cent is incredibly smart, strong-willed, and despite her good relationship with her parents, she is feeling smothered by their protectiveness. Of course, they do have good reason to be protective, her father only has to pull down his shirt to show her the scars, but even so, Cent feels that it is high time she go to school and be allowed to make friends with people her own age. Cent also discovers a new way to jump, adding speed and velocity when she jumps so that she can fly through the air. I loved that new element as it gave Cent ownership over her jumping.
I loved the family dynamics in this story. The parents are not absent as in a lot of YA fiction, and their characters added to the story. Cent is brilliant and sassy, and although she claims to be unsocialized, she is quick to catch on and make friends....and enemies. The romance of the story (for you know there is one) was nice and organic in a way that made it believable. Oh, and she snowboards. The details about snowboarding sometimes left me reeling with all the technical terms, but it only added to the authenticity rather than create any confusion or boredom.
Cent is a fabulous heroine and here is the best part...you don't have to read the other two books in order to Impulse. There are plenty of inferences of the last two books to understand their basic plots without unnecessary info dumps. Although, I do think you should Jumper, simply because it is awesome.
::sigh:: I just love great books, don't you?