Flashback Friday: Jumper by Steven Gould

Jumper (Book 1) by Steven Gould
Publisher: Starscape
Release Date: February 18, 2002 (originally published 1992)

The first time it happened was like this: Davy lives alone with his father. It isn't much of a home though as his father is verbally and physically abusive. One night, just as his father is about to beat him with the metal end of his belt, Davy finds himself suddenly in the local public library. Davy assumes that he blacked out or something, the ordeal too terrible to remember. But he soon figures out that he has inexplicably developed the ability to teleport himself. Leaving his abusive father behind, Davy moves to New York City. But life isn't easy for a battered runaway teen who is always looking over his shoulder. Davy finds himself doing some morally sketchy things to survive, but his biggest test will come when he finally confronts the mother who abandoned him to abuse.

One of the downsides of running a book blog that reviews mostly new books is that you find yourself only reading new stuff and never re-reading the books you love. Hence, my newly formed Flashback Friday, where I will review books that I have already read before and ruminate over why the book has stuck with me and why I love it so much.

Forget the movie. That horrible piece of shit that came out in 2008. The only similarities that that vile thing had to this book was the teleportation and an abusive father. Not that they lingered on the abusive father for long as Davy of the movie moves on like it is nothing.

What I love about the book is that, within this fantasy, there is so much true-to-life reality. Davy moves away, he meets a girl, he gets money, and yet he can't shake the effects of being abused and abandoned. He's a good kid who worries constantly that his dad will somehow find him and wants to know why his mother abandoned him. Then there is the whole terrorist angle. After a tragedy, Davy spends a good half of the book tracking down terrorists and jumping (his term for teleporting) NSA agents all over the globe. I understand, with our current global climate, why the filmmakers shied away from this aspect of the story, yet it was so incredibly important to the character growth of Davy. Despite some of his mistakes, we need to see that Davy is a good person. A really good person who cares deeply for people. The moment of confrontation between Davy and his father is amazing, but Davy has to earn that moment and grow up a bit for it to happen.

This is an action story with a deeply resonant heart and soul. The best part? There is more than one. Book two (Reflex) follows Davy and his girlfriend Millie after Davy is kidnapped and conditioned to obey. Book three (Impulse) follows Davy and Millie's daughter Cent as she navigates a world that is very dangerous for their family yet desperately needs the human interaction and Davy fears. Book four (Exo) continues with Cent as she too struggles with her place in the world as a teleporter always being hunted.

I have read this book several times and every single time I fall in love with Davy and his story. It makes me sad that the movie, being what it was, may turn readers off. Please don't be turned off. Find a used copy or download the audio book and discover a book that is one part action and two parts psychology with a bit of humor, a love story, and a bank robbery.