Book Review: Double Jump by Jason Glaser
Jeremy Chin didn’t notice anything odd about his world until the day it was destroyed by a sparkling dust dumped from an airship. He dives into a swimming pool, and blacks out. When he awakens in a hospital, Jeremy appears to be in a different world altogether. He’s quickly recruited by Steel Serpent, a genetically enhanced soldier with a penchant for hiding in cardboard boxes, and Xartus, a snarky white mage (healer.)
In between deadly encounters, Jeremy learns that he is now in a place called the Lattice which was cobbled together from other destroyed worlds and which seems to run on video game logic. As he gains other allies and develops strange new powers, Jeremy slowly begins to grasp what the enemy who destroyed his world is up to. Can he learn the secret of the double jump before it’s too late?
This is indeed a tribute to a certain generation of video games, and many young adults will be able to tell who and what the various characters were inspired by. The “world inspired by mashing together other fictional worlds” setting is one I’ve seen before (In this particular case, most recently in Wreck-It Ralph) , but it’s fairly well-thought-out here.
Jeremy is very much “the Chosen One”; events (and possibly the universe) revolve around him, he manifests new awesome powers as the plot demands, and he seems to break the local rules of physics. Mind, this is a fairly common thing in video games, as the story points out. He also seems to be remarkably unaffected emotionally by the destruction of his world. Admittedly, the non-stop action doesn’t give him much time to think about that, and there are flashbacks that partially explain his numbness, but I hope that the inevitable sequel will have him dealing with the aftermath more fully.
The flashbacks are perhaps the most innovative aspect of the book; Jeremy’s memories are not internally consistent, something he realizes towards the end of the story. Indeed, they suggest that the events are not necessarily taking place in “reality” in the physical sense. I should mention for those who are easily triggered that suicide is a part of the story.
One aspect of the Lattice that may be problematic for some readers is the “Nons.” There are less than ten thousand freewilled beings in the universe; the rest are automatons that blindly repeat actions and bestow quests. The “heroes” have long since learned not to care about Nons since the quests are often dangerous and after a while the rewards are not worth it. Jeremy has not learned this lesson yet, and does help out a few Nons…who know his name. Hmm….
The female characters are depicted as competent, but there are some digs at the impractical costumes foisted on them in video games. One, Min, is engaged in intensive study of the “Engine” (the rules that drive the Lattice) in an effort to overcome the embarrassing nature of her powers.
The suicide and some rough language may make this book unsuitable for younger or more sensitive readers; otherwise it should be okay for junior high on up. (A scene involving Min would boost the rating to an “R” if it were visual.)
I am pleased to say that though this book was self-published, it looks good and has no memorable typos. Recommended for video game fans and former video game fans.