Monday, January 28, 2008

Jump to the conclusion

Title: Reflex
Author: Steven Gould
Bookmark: the "you checked out this book" receipt from the library

I forgot to mention in the last post that Gould is obviously pandering to nerds with these books. Evidence is as follows:
  1. In both previous books, the wayward lonely geek somehow manages to have sex with the first girl with whom he really connects. Oh, and in both cases, she's crazy hot.
  2. In Jumper, the first couple times Davy instinctively jumps to safety, he ends up in the fiction section of the Stanville Public Library, surrounded by his friends (...the books of the Stanville Public Library).
  3. Davy goes on (throughout the first book and the time leading up to the second book) collecting books. When he has to flee those hunting him down and suddenly switch apartments in Jumper, he moves all his books, then remembers to go back and grab his cash (over a million bucks). In Reflex, there is mention of him having to give books away to libraries and charities... to make room for other books.
  4. There are also a few literary references so obscure I had to jot them down so I could look them up later.
  5. Think about it: the whole concept is of a social outcast who can flinch away from trouble at any time, but eventually uses that ability to help people and be a superhero, albeit a closeted hero. We nerds may dream of saving the day and emulating our comic books, but we don't always handle attention very well.

In the first chapter of Reflex, our hero Davy is drugged, kidnapped, chained, and drugged some more. During the "more drugging" phase, a vagus nerve stimulator is implanted in his chest. Meanwhile his wife (chick from Jumper) is isolated in their inaccessible-except-by-jumping-or-extreme-technical-climbing cliff house, tries to rappel out, fails miserably due to a contrived equipment failure, and then discovers she can also jump. Apparently she developed this ability as a side effect of jumping so many times with Davy in the ten years between Jumper and Reflex. Yes, teleportation is contagious. Who knew? This does give me hope, though--I don't have to be born with this ability, just meet someone who can do it and then make friends.

Davy's captors keep him chained because they've discovered (after chaining him) that he can't jump beyond the limits of the chain. The device in his chest receives a radio signal only they can transmit, and they can decide how wide an area receives the signal. If he goes outside the safe zone, full-body cramps, explosive diarrhea, and uncontrollable vomiting result. Oh, and it hurts like hell, too. They use this to condition him so that they can use him as they see fit.

His wife works with the NSA (who don't know who took Davy, but have some guesses. They also don't know she can jump) to try to find her husband, who is also their "asset." He's been working with them since the last book, making truckloads of money doing it, and choosing which missions he'll take (he also does some side work on his own, like extracting Amnesty International workers imprisoned in scary regions). His control agent is the same guy who eventually sided with him in Jumper, and is killed in the abduction scene.

When Millie (the wife) discovers there's a leak in the NSA, she goes rogue, and refuses to work with anyone except the one agent she trusts (and one FBI agent). Davy is continually conditioned, studied by a physicist, and tormented by the woman who killed his control, abducted him, runs his missions, and tries to seduce him at every opportunity. (Another dead sexy woman, except for the Embodiment of Evil thing)

The first half of the book was fairly uncomfortable to read. The things they did to Davy were... beyond awful. I quickly got to the point where I only wanted someone (Davy, Millie, Jack Bauer, anybody) to sweep in, save the day, extract Davy, and kill everyone involved in his abduction and imprisonment. The evil chick, her boss, the physicist, hell kill the goddamn butler. He turned out to be a ninja anyway. The turnaround came for me when Davy realized the limits of his conditioning--they couldn't use the implant to punish him when he was in his Safe Zone, because that would contradict the conditioning. (However, they could, and did, beat the shit out of him) More importantly, his time with the physicist leads him to discover an extension of his jumping ability, and he manages to do so without anyone finding out. This Even More Secret Power becomes vital soon after, at about the same time Millie comes to save the day using a technique similar to Davy's back in his counter-terrorism days in Jumper.

As hard as the first half was to read, it was still fantastic. This is easily the best of the three books.

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posted by reyn at 8:19 AM


Blogger Kat said...

I must be a nerd, because I think that Davy instinctively jumping to the Stanville Public Library is great! :)

Teleportation is contagious? Wow. Who knew?

2/04/2008 7:08 PM  

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