I just finished Steven Gould‘s Reflex, the sequel to Jumper. The original Jumper was heavily modified when adapted for the film, mostly for the better as far as the medium is concerned. The verbiage on the front of the book claims that Reflex is a sequel to the film. It’s not—it’s a sequel to the book. Anyone reading Reflex after only having seen the film would be very, very confused. There is a third book, Griffin’s Story, which is a sort of prequel or tie-in for the film, but doesn’t have much if anything to do with either of the other two books. Had you only read the original book and never seen the film, Griffin’s Story wouldn’t make much sense at all.
Point being, the original book doesn’t suck. It’s a little preachy (the story of Davy’s alcoholic father is much more prominent), but it’s still an interesting concept. Also, it’s very well conceived and internally consistent—you can tell that Steven Gould is a geek at heart and sweats the details. The original book isn’t the jump-cut action-fest that the film is, but at the same time tells a somewhat more realistic story of what one driven person with that ability would probably do with it. It’s the weakest of the three, but that’s not all bad as it’s a decent book.
Reflex is a strong improvement over Jumper. There’s more action, less preaching, and even more exploration and attention to detail. Gould has improved as a writer and it shows. If they ever make a sequel to the film, Reflex could be converted to a screenplay with a minimum of hassle. As I said, it’s firmly in the universe of the book and not the film, but it’s not too contradictory to the film. Again, you can see a more logical progression of the character as what Davy is doing and has done with his life in the intervening decade are consistent and real-world. This book is easily my favorite of the series.
Griffin’s Story, being a sort of companion to the film (barely a prequel), is certainly the most cinematic of the bunch. It’s written almost as if a film treatment of the universe of the original book. It’s been a while since I read it, but I seem to remember it being mush less geeky, and the technobabble was less techno and more babble. It’s interesting to contrast with Reflex because the physics behind the jumping is different between the two. Gould takes the orthogonal sets of rules and has fun with them, which I thoroughly enjoyed—sortof like an author remixing his own work.
The three books are each quick reads. I’d recommend them for anyone who enjoyed the film, or anyone who likes light speculative fiction. They don’t bash you over the head with the technicalities and physics, but nor do they induce eye-rolling as books of this type often do. I hope that Gould writes more books, because I enjoy his brand of geek fiction.