It doesn't help that film-Millie is kind of a bimbo, easily bowled over by film-Davy's lies and money and power. By the end of the film, in spite of him lying to her, endangering the hell out of her, and destroying her life, she's draped over his arm, basically as another accessory that he accumulates to show how awesome he is.


Morality aside, there's obviously a broad tonal difference between the book and the film. The book, as I've said, is methodical, sometimes almost plodding, in laying out the step-by-step procedures of making a life in a new city, or developing an information network that will help stop terrorist attacks. The movie is broad and spastic, fast-forwarding past Davy's development from a scared kid to an overconfident lout played by Hayden Christensen. (Yes, he's about as stiff and uninteresting as he was in the Star Wars prequel films. While he never tells Millie she's soft and smooth and not at all like sand, his relationship with her is about like his relationship with Padme in Attack Of The Clones: clumsy and glowering and grunty.) And the movie's skip-to-the-action aesthetic leaves a bunch of massive logical holes in its wake. For instance, it's never really clear what the paladins believe, or why, or where they came from, or how they find jumpers. It's also never clear why Davy's teleports sometimes barely disturb the papers in the room he's leaving, and sometimes smash walls to powder.

These things are actually cleared up elsewhere, in stories that are more interesting than the movie by a good bit. The future life of book-Davy is also laid out in an unrelated book. Some brief summaries of the other Jumper-related books out there:

Reflex is the sequel to Jumper, and has nothing to do with the film universe: It's about Davy as a grown-up, now married and with most, but not all, of his abuse issues behind him. In this book, he's captured by some individuals who've learned about some of the limitations of his powers, and use them to control him and begin conditioning him. Like Jumper, it's methodical and detailed, walking through the steps of what they do to him and what the results are. That's about half the book; the other involves Millie trying to figure out what happened to him, and trying to save him. It's more of a traditional thriller than Jumper, and less of a young-adult book. I'd recommend it. In some ways, I think it's a better book than Jumper–more balanced, better-written throughout–though I wouldn't recommend reading it without reading Jumper first.


Jumper: Griffin's Story is a book Gould wrote as a prequel to the movie, and in the movie universe rather than the universe of his original, paladin-free Jumper. It's the backstory of Griffin, the experienced jumper played in the film by Jamie Bell. And it reads more than a little like a retread of Jumper. Griffin isn't abused and doesn't have the same issues, and he's much younger than Davy, but he's forced out of his home when paladins come after him and kill his family, and he goes through much of the same steps in escaping his old life, learning about his powers, and gradually building himself a home. This book does a much better job than the film of showing why the paladins are the bad guys–ruthless people with way too much power who will casually kill anyone to achieve their goals. And it explains a lot more about the variables of jumping–how sloppy or sudden or unplanned or emotional jumps disturb the area and bring along more detritus than controlled ones, for instance. It also explains a lot about the paladins' methodology–some of them can sense teleportation, and use it to track their prey. This one's inessential, though, except for people who really enjoyed the movie and want to explore the world at length. Or people who think the movie looks dumb, but enjoyed Gould's other work and would like a more nuanced, Gould-flavored look at the world of the film.

Jumper: Jumpscars is a tie-in graphic novel not written by Gould, from the perspective of a newbie paladin learning why jumpers are bad and need to be killed. And it makes some pretty good arguments, actually, especially in light of the film. It's presented more as a tragedy than a primer, but it's an interesting look at the other side of the equation, and it's far more nuanced than the film's "God wants you to die!" paladin perspective.


One more thing about the film: It really wants to be a superhero comic. It underlines this a lot, with Davy repeatedly telling Griffin that their story is like a Marvel Team-Up arc, where two unrelated superheroes briefly hang out and work together. The metaphor comes up several times. But Davy isn't a hero, or even an anti-hero. He's a supervillain, and he just doesn't know it. Maybe, just maybe, he'll actually go all the way into villainy or heroism in the next movie, and become an actual interesting character. I'm not holding my breath, because it doesn't seem likely. But since the film goes out of its way to set up a sequel by throwing in irrelevant unresolved plot threads, then hitting viewers over the head with them at the end of the film, and since the movie's fairly close to making back its production budget after a week in theaters, I think it's fairly likely that we'll be seeing Jumper 2: The Jumping Boogaloo at some point in the future. Hopefully it'll at least make the protagonist someone worth caring about, one way or the other.

Next time on Book Vs. Film: