1992, First Edition — Hardcover
|Cover artist||Romas Kukalis, cover art|
|Genre||Science fiction novel|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-8125-2237-0 (hardback edition)|
Jumper is a 1992 science fiction novel by Steven Gould. The novel was published in mass market paperback in October 1993 and re-released in February 2008 to coincide with the release of the film adaptation. It tells the story of David, a teenager who escapes an abusive household using his ability to teleport. As he tries to make his way in the world, he searches for his mother (who left when he was a child), develops a relationship with a woman he keeps his ability secret from, and is eventually brought into conflict with several antagonists.
One evening, while being physically abused by his father, David Rice unexpectedly teleports (or "jumps") and finds himself in the local library. The origin of this power is never explained. Vowing never to return to his father's house, David makes his way to New York City. After being mugged and discovering that he can't get a job without a birth certificate and social security number, David robs a local bank by teleporting inside the safe, stealing nearly a million dollars. He then begins a life of reading, attending plays, and dining in fancy restaurants.
At a play he meets a woman named Millie Harrison, and they spend some time touring New York before she returns to college in Stillwater, Oklahoma. David later visits her in Oklahoma, and they attend a party, where he accidentally runs into Millie's ex-boyfriend, Mark, who tries to fight him, forcing David to jump Mark away, unnoticed. Feeling bad for David, Millie invites him to stay the night at her place. The two officially start a romantic relationship and make love. Millie and David continue to see each other and begin to fall in love. David manages to locate and reunite with his long-lost mother, Mary Niles. Mary left the family after being severely beaten by David's father, and all her attempts to contact David over the years were intercepted by his father.
The New York police start investigating David after he saves a neighbor from an attack by jumping her abusive husband to a park; the husband turns out to be a cop. The investigation drives David to move to Oklahoma, where he gets an apartment near Millie. One night while David is out, the police are in his New York City apartment when Millie calls. The police inform her of their investigation on him. David confronts Millie and tries to explain, but Millie breaks up with him and tells him to go. Out of anger, David jumps in front of her, back to his apartment in Stillwater.
After a few weeks, David finds himself missing Millie and starts receiving letters from her, a way of reconciling.
While watching the news, Mary, who was on a business trip, is murdered by terrorists when her plane is hijacked. David then sets out to find Rashid Matar, the terrorist responsible for his mother's death. David starts jumping to Algeria to search for Matar, having to dodge the police almost every time he is there. While at Mary's funeral, David meets his father for the first time in years and is interrogated by the police again. While he is searching for the terrorist, he and Millie go out on their first date in months together. David tells her everything, even the bank robbery, which she's a little upset about. Despite everything that he has told her, his ability to jump and the money he stole, Millie confesses that she misses him and is deeply in love with him. David and Millie officially restart their relationship.
However, the National Security Agency, led by veteran agent Brian Cox, becomes suspicious when it finds out he can get from Algeria to the United States in only a few hours. When he is questioned, David jumps out of the NSA office, witnessed by Cox and several other agents. Cox and the NSA then become determined to capture David so they can use his powers. David has Millie go stay with her parents, while at the same time they see each other in secret. After numerous failures to grab David, Cox takes Millie hostage in order to get to him. David strikes back by grabbing Cox, and later captures Matar and his abusive father—thereby putting him in the unique position of controlling the fates of all three of his tormentors.
This experience has profound effects on all four of them. David finds himself unable to kill his captives despite their crimes against him and ultimately releases them. David turns Matar over to the authorities, threatening to come after him again if he isn't found guilty for his crimes. His father is forced to acknowledge his abuse of David and Mary and enters alcoholic counseling. Cox is forced to see the similarities between his actions and those of the terrorist and the wife-beating alcoholic, has Millie released, and agrees to stop hunting David. Both David and Millie go away with each other.
Afterward, Millie comforts David as he realizes that he cannot escape his pain through teleportation or vigilante action, and he enters counseling as well.
- David Rice – The protagonist of the story who discovers that he can "jump" to any place that he can clearly visualize in memory. David is the victim of an abusive father. He meets and falls in love with Millie.
- Millie Harrison – David's girlfriend, whom he met at a play in New York. She attends a university in Stillwater, Oklahoma. During her relationship with David, Millie falls in love with him.
- Mary Niles – David's mother, who left the family five years prior to the start of the novel due to her husband's abusive behavior. She is killed by terrorists during a business trip.
- Carl Rice – David's abusive father. He abused his wife, Mary, and David to the point where they both left him.
- Brian Cox – An NSA agent who attempts to capture David after witnessing him jump, going as far as kidnapping Millie.
- Sergeant Washburn – An NYPD officer and an abusive husband. He tries to get David arrested after David jumps him away from his abused wife.
- Rashid Matar – A hijacker and terrorist. He was responsible for Mary Niles' death.
A film by the same title, released on February 14, 2008, was directed by Doug Liman, with a screenplay adapted by David S. Goyer, Jim Uhls and Simon Kinberg. It starred Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Bilson, Jamie Bell, and Diane Lane. The beginning of the film follows the early plot of the novel with respect to Davy's home life and discovery of jumping, but from there follows Davy's life as an adult and expands upon a different story. Most of the characters are presented in modified ways from the book, and there is an entirely new major character, Griffin O'Conner, another jumper. Also new are a group of people called Paladins, whose sole purpose in the world is to hunt down and kill jumpers, their claimed justification for doing so on religious grounds, with the Brian Cox character (renamed Roland Cox) being the group's leader and the principal antagonist in the film instead of an NSA agent.
A new novel was written as a tie-in to the movie, titled Jumper: Griffin's Story. This book gives the backstory of the new character, and as noted in an introduction by the author, is not entirely consistent with the original Jumper or with Reflex.
Awards and nominations
- Compton Crook Award Final Ballot (an award for first novels)
- Locus Poll, second place, best first novel, 1992
- American Library Association, Best Book List, YA division
- International Teacher's Association's Recommended Reading List
- Pacific Northwest Reader's Association, YA Award Final Ballot
Jumper was number 94 on the American Library Association's 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999. Gould said: "considering that it wasn't published until the latter half of 1992, it had to work extra hard." The book was listed for the graphic description of David's abuse at the start of the book (page 2) and the description of David's debate about killing his passed out father (page 10-11).
- A 2004 sequel to the novel, Reflex, continues the story of David and Millie as adults.
- The 2008 short story "Shade" takes place after the events in Reflex.
- A 2013 sequel, Impulse, tells the story of their daughter, Cent.
- The 2008 novel Jumper: Griffin's Story tells the tale of another "jumper" character from the film inspired by the novel, and serves as a prequel/spin-off. There is also a video game of the same name, which was released in 2008. Both titles take place in the film's world, and not that of the novels.