Release Date: November 1st 2013
Published By: Allen & Unwin Australia
Goodreads: Add it to your reading list
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis: Clair lives in a world revolutionised by d-mat, a global teleport system that allows people to transport themselves instantaneously around the world. When a coded note promises improvement – the chance to change your body any way you want, making it stronger, taller, more beautiful – Clair thinks it’s too good to be true, but her best friend, Libby, is determined to give it a try.
What starts as Libby’s dream turns into Clair’s nightmare when Libby falls foul of a deadly trap. With the help of Jesse, the school freak, and a mysterious online friend called Q, Clair’s attempt to protect Libby leads her to an unimagined world of conspiracies and cover-ups. Soon her own life is at risk, and Clair is chased across the world in a desperate race against time.
Review: The world that Sean Williams has created is pretty much what I believed the world would be like by 2013 (because 2013 was like 100 million years away). As a child, things like Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Jetsons and seemed more like prophecy than fiction, and if you had of asked my 8 year old self what 2013 would be like, I would have included things like instant teleportation (d-mat ) and having the ability to make material items appear whenever you wanted them (fabber). Social media however does play a stronger part in Jump than I could have imaged back in the 80’s.
Jump (or Twinmaker as it is known in the US) is set in world where people travel by a teleportation system called d-mat, social media and virtual communication is just as much a necessity in life as eating and you are connected to the ‘Air’ via contact lenses and everything is at your beck and call.
The story starts with Clair and her best friend Libby receiving a meme (chain letter) which tells them that they can be improved. Improvement can change any aspect you don’t like about yourself, and the chain letter leads the reader believe that they are special to be given this opportunity. Although Clair is sceptical, Libby is quick to try Improvement. After Improvement, Libby starts to change, and Clair is determined to find out what is happening to her – and once Clair finds out that the Improvement may indeed ultimately kill Libby, she sets out on a mission to find out, and expose, what Improvement for what it really is.
Along the way, Clair makes many allies and enemies. This is where Clair, as a protagonist, let me down. There were times where she trusted someone or something too easily. In a world where you don’t know what or who to trust, I just felt that she was too trusting at times. Also, she was so determined to keep Libby’s friendship exactly how she needed it to be, she made some very stupid decisions. Throughout the story, Clair does become a lot stronger and is willing to do whatever it takes to change the wrongs, expose the truth, and ends up making decisions she never felt she would have to make.
I really liked her sidekick – Jesse. Jesse is the school freak – a “stainer”, someone who abstains from the technological advantages of their world, like using d-mat and fabbering. Clair and Jesse certainly have their ups and downs, I felt the natural growth of their friendship was very well done. Q was another interesting character, and one that I felt that Clair placed her trust in too soon. Clair “meets” Q after her own attempt at Improvement, but they only communicate via Air. Q has a childlike quality, and seems to attach herself to Clair quite quickly. Although I enjoyed what Q brought to this storyline, I found myself going from trusting her to being suspicious of her and her motives (I won’t tell you which was correct). Although at times I didn’t trust Q, I feel that this character was the most interesting of all –she is knows all about the technology this world is obsessed with (including Improvement), she is resourceful, she is intelligent, and she is determined to reach out to Clair.
The one character I didn’t really like was Libby. Libby is very insecure in herself – she is determined that Improvement will remove her birthmark and therefore will fix all of her problems. This attitude explodes to dramatic proportions after Improvement: she becomes self-centred and nasty towards Clair and her boyfriend Zep (although Zep may have deserved it to some degree). This “change” in her personality is explained later in the book, however I am not convinced that Libby has actually changed – it seems to me that these character traits were just brought to the surface and amplified.
What I found most interesting in Jump is how it exemplifies dependency on technology and social media, especially for the generation who have never been without it. Air combines all the technological advantages we have today: internet, mobile phones, ipods, video and instant messaging, social media, but it also does have that “big brother” aspect to it. At one point Clair finds herself without access to Air, and she nearly has a mini-meltdown. At first I thought “get over it, it probably won’t be for too long”, but then I remembered how panicked I get when I think I have lost my iPhone. I haven’t lived my whole life with the great technology available today, but I also don’t think I would function too well if it all disappeared tomorrow.
Jump is full of action, conspiracy and interesting characters. There were some great plot twists throughout Jump, with the ending throwing another one your way to open up for the sequel Crash. This futuristic world is well developed and thought out, the lifestyle is embedded into this society, and there are rules to this amazingly crafted world… but some are willing to break them.
“I have everything under control. It’s time you realized it and let me be who I am.”
“With one gesture, she would rid the world of everything she had been fighting.”
“Buried in the Air under a mountain of irrelevant information, as all important things are. Nothing is hidden, and everything is ignored.”
“Of the two of them, she had the most left to lose. She still had a life out there, waiting for her to escape the people chasing them and reconnect. He, on the other hand, had lost almost everything–which made what he did have left all the more precious.”
“To life,” “and the hard business of living it.”
“How many brilliant minds had taken over the live of innocent young people who had wished to be more than they were?”