Impulse – Steven Gould

Impulse

Summary

Davy, who developed the ability to teleport as a teen, has married Millie, who now also has the skill, and they lead a quiet, cautious life with their daughter Cent. Until Cent decides she's tired of homeschooling and wants to go to a regular high school.

Review

I quite liked Jumper, Steven Gould’s first novel in this series, as well as Gould’s other, standalone, novels. And I was quite taken with his response (stolen from someone else, I think), when fans complained that the Jumper movie had ruined his book (he said, “My book is fine; it’s right there on the shelf.” The movie, by the way, was pretty incomprehensible.) In any case, I liked Jumper (a wish fulfillment story of a boy, Davy,  who finds he can teleport) and largely liked its sequel, Reflex, (which brought in a love interest who also acquired the talent). Here, somewhat predictably, Gould brings in a daughter.

That’s predictable, but not a bad choice, and offers some good opportunities for exploration and complication. However, I felt Gould fell down on the job on consistency. The family are introduced as extremely cautious to leave no trace of themselves for the evil conspirators who took Davy in the last book. And then various members of the family do everything but take out billboards screaming, “Hey! Teleporters over here! Come get us!” A key character also feels no compunction about using the ability to cheat in fair competition for low stakes.

Each of the three primary characters – father, mother, daughter – get their share of chapters, but the daughter, Cent, is clearly the core of the book. I found it unfortunate that Dad/Davy is so readily typecast as the overprotective but well-meaning father who just doesn’t get it and has to be put right by the wise mother. Cent, who starts at a local high school, runs into all the movie cliche high school tropes, and worse. To my mind the combination of these issues undermined the story, constantly reminding me of what it could have been and the short cuts Gould was taking.

At the same time, Gould’s writing is always engaging and quick, making the novel an easy read. He does go a little overboard on his jargon and research, whether that’s snowboarding or manga. I guess it’s fun if you’re really into those things, but so far, few of his interests have coincided with mine (a few literary allusions).

Overall, then, this is a solid continuation of the series, and a fun read, but starting to fade a bit. I’ll pick up the next book, Exo, to see the series through, and hope it perks back up a little at the end.

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