A review by Nalini Haynes
In the future, D-mat (teleport) is the mode of transport. Similar technology called ‘fabbing’ replicates all humanity’s needs, substituting cleaning clothes for ‘recycling’ them, substituting cooking for ‘Tea, Earl Grey, Hot.’ The internet has progressed past Google Glass into contact lenses and auditory implants; this technology combines with the current popularity obsession, creating bubbles of fame.
Clair’s best friend Libby nags her into searching, via D-mat, for a party site for the Crashlanders, an exclusive clique allowing entry only to those who locate a novel new party site.
Zeb, Libby’s boyfriend, shows up at the party, coming on to Clair after Libby leaves. Clair is conflicted; her crush on Zeb leads to disloyal behaviour, risking her friendship.
Libby, already gorgeous, desperately wants perfection by removing her birthmark. Improvement, thought to be a fictitious meme, offers change by tampering with code during D-mat transport. Libby tries Improvement then claims her birthmark is gone. Unpleasant side-effects include headaches, mood-swings, erratic behaviour and, oh yeah, death after a week.
Before learning of the fatal deadline, Clair tries Improvement to prove to Libby that she’s loyal. This is a little ‘WTF?!’ but teenagers are another country even without the time shift!
Clair’s investigation of Improvement leads her to Jesse Linwood and his father, Dylan, both Abstainers (abstaining from D-mat and replicated – ‘fabbed’ – food, clothing etc.). Dylan tackles the issue by confronting the principle of the high school Libby, Clair and Jesse attend. The resulting publicity increases when, within hours, Dylan is murdered, bombed in front of his own home.
Clair and Jesse are on the run, searching for answers, unsure who to trust. Clair is contacted by Q, a naïve but technically skilled girl who saves Clair time and again, long-distance.
Williams tweaked the language to indicate a future country: for example, ‘bump’ indicates a message. He’s found a good balance, using relatable language that is easily translated to current slang while alluding to a future culture with future technology.
The plot isn’t flawless in execution but the voice, pacing and style will appeal to the target audience. Some twists were unforeseen while others were somewhat predictable, at least for the experienced reader. For example, Q’s origins were predictable but I’ve been reading and watching similar SF stories for over thirty years while Jump is aimed at the next generation.
A light read, Jump is adventure with romance, aimed at progressing or graduating Troubletwister readers and up. The romance is limited to kissing while the characters are coming of age by developing independence and investigating a broken system/society. Drug use is mentioned but it’s limited to Libby’s post-Improvement attempts to cope with the side-effects of Improvement. Furthermore, Libby’s illicit drug-use is a deterrent for her seeking much-needed medical help without anyone taking the moral high ground.
I highly recommend this novel for readers of YA (Young Adult) novels, middle school students and older.
★★★★ 4/5 stars.