When sixteen-year-old Davy’s alcoholic father goes to hit him with the buckle end of the belt, Davy flinches and finds himself in the safest place he knows – the school library. Unsure what’s happened, but determined that he’s not going back, Davy hitchhikes out of town with just the shirt on his back. Two days on the road, footsore and exhausted, Davy accepts a ride with a trucker; Davy wakes from the only sleep he’s had in days to hear the driver arranging a meeting with some friends. When the truck pulls into a clearing off the main road, and Davy hears the men unzip their flies, he jumps back to the library just in time.
At first Davy suspects that he’s lost time, but he comes to realise that he has the ability to teleport to anywhere he’s been before and has a strong memory of. He makes his way to New York where, after stealing almost a million dollars from the vault of a major bank, he begins to lead a life of restrained luxury – seeing the city and all it has to offer. During the intermission of one of Davy’s favourite plays, Sweeney Todd, he meets Millie. Three years older and a college student out of state, they click, but he can’t reveal the truth to her.
Davy’s mother left when he was twelve, an absence which has profoundly affected him. He makes contact with her, and she comes to New York to visit. After a year of reconstructive surgery (Davy’s father came close to killing her the night she fled), and several years of therapy, she’s rebuilt her life. She leaves for a trip to Europe (she’s a travel agent), with the understanding that they’ll see each other again on her return. But Mary’s plane is hijacked by a Hezbollah-affiliated terrorist cell, and Mary is killed.
Determined to avenge his mother’s death, Davy vows to capture the ring-leader, and embarks on an ambitious plan to snatch him from his next hijacking.
Jumper is a worthy addition to the teleporting genre. Necessarily a little dated in technology (it was published in 1992), it has otherwise stood the test of time. Davy is sympathetically and realistically portrayed, his blossoming romance with Millie unfolds beautifully, and I liked the National Security angle. All in all an entertaining and though provoking novel. - Alex
Addendum: 2/2/08 - I was quite excited when I saw there was a FSF movie called Jumper (what were the odds it wasn't based on this novel), but from what Margaret and David say and from the trailers, the film's creators have wholly ruined a great plot. Aargh!