Culture & Criticism Since 2003
This latest in Gould’s Jumper series, about people who can teleport, brings to the table the strengths one expects from the veteran science fiction writer: meticulous science, a comprehensive imaging of what a new science or technology might bring to a society, and characters that swim unconcernedly in these alien seas. Gould’s style is close to my own notion of how a science fiction novel should be written, and I always enjoy reading him as a result.
In EXO, his central character, a 17 year old girl named “Cent,” is one of the most credible representations of a young adult female that I’ve seen. Gould cheerfully admits to cannibalizing from his own two teenage daughters to create Cent, and the results are a strong protagonist who is neither an aching bodice-ripping love-torn emotional wreck or an overwhelming “grrrrl power” harpy out to remake the testicular world. She’s simply Cent, an intelligent, science-oriented teenager who is learning how to use remarkable abilities in a mature and constructive fashion.
The only downsides to EXO were the plot climax, which I found somewhat puzzling, and an inclination toward dryness (hard to avoid when you are being very careful with your science), accentuated by Cent’s habit of hiding behind pedantry when confused or emotionally torn. Nonetheless, the good far outweighs the negative in what is ultimately a worth-while read.
Thus, if you have a child who is intelligent and in whom you want to cultivate an interest in science, or if you happen to be a child matching that description, then Gould’s Jumper series is an excellent way to foster that fascination in ways that are engaging and fun. Gould isn’t afraid to challenge his young readers; in turn, his books prove ideal for young readers who need to be challenged.
Zepp Jamieson was born in Ottawa, Ontario, and spent his formative years living in various parts of Canada, the UK, South Africa and Australia before finally moving to the United States, where he has lived for over 40 years. Aside from writing, his interests include hiking, raising dogs and cats, and making computers jump through hoops. His wife of 25 years edits his copy, and bravely attempts to make him sound coherent. Reach him through The Electric Review.