Wednesday, 20 February 2008

‘Jumper’ – Steven Gould (Tor Books)

The last movie tie-in novel I read was probably ‘Return of the Jedi’, when I was a kid, so I was eager to see how ‘Jumper’ fared. However, closer inspection of the book revealed that there is a sixteen-year gap between ‘Jumper’ first being published (apparently it spent time on the American Library Association’s list of Most Banned Books 1990-1999) and it being made into a film. My ‘movie tie-in’ wait will continue for a little while longer… The movie reviews that I’ve seen for ‘Jumper’ haven’t been favourable so far, I think that if they’d stuck with what was in the book things would have turned out a lot better.
The basic premise is the same in both book and film; David Rice discovers the ability to teleport anywhere in the world so long as he has already been there. That’s not a problem though as he’s stolen a million dollars to fund a new life away from his abusive father, cue lots of plane rides… A seemingly idyllic life is set to take a downturn though when a government agency discovers David’s special talent. Whereas the film trailer shows lots of fights with shadowy adversaries, the book takes a more ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ approach and at the same time panders to those of us who have always wondered what it must be like to have the power of teleportation. Come on, we’ve all thought about it… I particularly liked the way that Gould strikes a good balance between cutting loose with the teleportation concept and backing it up with underpinning rules. This doesn’t always work though as David’s teleportation is sometimes used as a quick and easy way for him to pick up whatever he needs to do a particular job. At one point, David magically has diving gear to hand and it just felt a little bit too contrived… While we’re talking about things that felt contrived, I’m sure that the lecture on the nature of terrorism only needed to be half the length if it was needed at all.
David can do what he likes but only within certain limits, this stops him developing into an uber powerful character and this device really comes into its own when David is forced to deal with emotional problems surrounding his family and other relationships. His power won’t solve everything and this forces a development in his character that really had me feeling for him at times.
We’re not just looking at emotional growth though, this is a book about teleportation and we get to see David use what’s essentially a ‘one trick’ power in a variety of cool ways. I loved the way that David dealt with the NSA agents who were hassling family and friends as well as the ways in which he eventually managed to come to terms with his father.
I haven’t seen the movie yet but having read the book I’m not sure that I need to. As a book, ‘Jumper’ pretty much ticks all the boxes that I’m after.

Nine out of Ten


kendall said...

The movie apparently changed a lot, including some of the rules. But anyway, if you want a movie tie-in, Gould wrote the tie-in prequel to the movie (yes, a prequel to the movie). Basically, think of the prequel book and the movie as being an alternate universe version of Jumper, from what I hear. ;-)

Robert said...

Based on the previews and the director, I really wanted to watch this movie, but the reviews haven't been so promising. So, I'll probably wait until the DVD comes out ;)

As far as the actual book the movie is based on, it sounds like it may be a lot better than the adaptation, so I might have to check it out...

kendall said...

The original book is, IMHO, wonderful. :-) The sequel (Reflex) is good but not quite as good. Gould has several other books and I especially recommend Helm.

SQT said...

Interesting. I had heard the book was kind of boring-- but I don't always agree with the taste of the person who told me that (she doesn't like Indiana Jones for Pete's sake!). So I may need to give this a closer look.

Brent said...

Finished the book today well after I had seen the movie. Huge difference between the two stories but each are unique and worth exploring. The excitement of the movie is a bit better but the character in the book have more depth.

Overall, movie first then the book!