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The Book Jumper: The Edwardian Cricketer Book Review

The Book Jumper: The Edwardian Cricketer Book Review

Author: EdwardianCricketer/Thursday, August 1, 2019/Categories: Blog, Book Review

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The Book Jumper, by Mechthild Gläser, 2015. New York. Published by Square Fish. Translation by Romy Fursland, 2017. 373 pages, trade size paperback. Originally published in Germany by Loerve Verlag GMbH under the title Die Buchspringer. ISBN: 978-1-250-14423-2. $10.99.

SPOILER WARNING

This review contains spoilers, including revealing the end of the book.

SUMMARY AND REVIEW

Seventeen-year-old Amy Lennox and her 17 years older mother, Alexis, leave their home in Germany for Alexis’s ancestral home in Scotland for personal reasons. Alexis’s boyfriend broke up with her and Amy had an embarrassing incident in school. Once in Scotland, Amy meets her grandmother, Lady Mairead, and learns that she is one of a long line of book jumpers. Their family and an ancient rival family, the Macalisters, can “jump” into any book as long as they have that book with them and are inside the stone circle near the top of the secret library, which is hidden deep underground. Their families have been guarding the library and all of literature for centuries. They had previously been warring clans and formed a treaty to guard to the library after a fire destroyed a fairy tale.

Lady Mairead wants Amy to be taught as all their family has been, by monks that maintain the library. Alexis doesn’t want Amy book jumping because of an experience she had as a jumper. Amy tends the school and discovers she can go from one book to another without coming back to the circle and she doesn’t have to be in the circle to jump, something she’s not supposed to be able to do. She meets Will and Betsy Macalister, neither of who can do these things.

Amy’s first jump is into The Jungle Book and from the start she learns that bad things are happening in the book world. She meets Werther, a character from a story, who helps her try to track down the thief who has been stealing items and ideas from literature. The thief stole the cyclone from The Wizard of Oz and the evil from Wuthering Heights, among other things like treasure from another story.

In the real world, Will’s life is shattered when the body of his best friend, Sherlock Holmes, washes up on the beach. Will blames himself since he’s the one who brought Holmes into the real world. Later, he and Amy have what seems to be a random encounter with a homeless girl who runs away from them.

Amy learns why Alexis left Scotland and book jumping. She was pregnant with Amy and that Amy’s father is Desmond, one of the monks who are all characters from the fairy tale that burned. They got trapped in the real world and can never go back. Amy is half human, half literary. Amy and Will learn that Lady Mairead had been sending Betsy to steal valuables from the book world because the Lennox family was close to bankruptcy but she had Betsy return it all.

Amy’s suspicions run wild as she tries to figure out who is stealing ideas, putting literature at risk. She and Will finally encounter the little girl again who turns out to be the princess from the fairy tale that burned. She is trying to reconstruct her story from the stolen bits of other stories. She’d been controlling Will the whole time, sending him to steal for her and even got him to kill Sherlock Holmes.

The story ends a bit strangely with Will sacrificing himself, thus killing the monster and the knight the princess had made him become. Amy takes Will into Peter Pan, his favorite book where Tinkerbell makes him a character of the book. Since her magic only works in the book, Will can never leave. Amy continues book jumping but is uncertain how long her gift will last.

“Stormsay. The word tasted of secrets.” I love this line. I was hooked at this point. The Book Jumper is very well written. This book is written from two points of view: first person from Amy’s point of view and third person from Will’s. In itself, this can be an effective storytelling device if used well. Glaser uses this method fairly well. There are, however, places in the book that get a little confusing when she shifts perspective in the middle of a page. The reader has to wait for the POV character to speak or act to realize from which viewpoint they are reading.

This book is a mystery/fantasy blend that seems to work fairly well structurally as a mystery. The fantasy concept, jumping into books, is a good one. I like that they can just turn the pages of a book from within the book. It bears some similarity to time travel books in that the jumper is forbidden to interfere with the plot for fear of changing the story.

In addition to a minor issue I had with how Glaser changed POV, one major problem I had was allowing Amy to jump into an e-reader. For me, a book is almost like a living organism and an e-reader is cold lifeless technology. What happens if the battery goes dead while you’re inside? And Glaser did something I’ve found I do not like in the few mysteries I’ve read. There’s an “oh-by-the-way-this-happened-then-so-that’s-this-happening-now” trope that seems to pop up toward the end of the book. The princess says that she had poisoned Will but at nowhere earlier in the book was this ever even mentioned as an idea, even as Amy briefly suspected Will. Granted, they had not met the princess yet. It seems like a convenient plot device to excuse possible lazy writing. Or maybe it’s common in mysteries. I’m a very linear reader so this doesn’t tend to work well for me.

The Book Jumper is a good read. The pace and chapter structure, and the characters and storyline, keep you wanting to read more. Issues acknowledged, I would still read it again.

 

 

 

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