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Saturday, March 9, 2013

“Impulse” by Steven Gould (Reviewed by Casey Blair)

Order “ImpulseHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

Steven Gould is a science fiction author of a number of novels and short stories. For those who follow SFWA happenings, he's also running for SFWA president at the moment, and you can check out his platform here:

Gould is most famous for his YA series that began with Jumper. Even if you haven't read the book, you may recognize the title, since it was adapted into a movie in 2008. I'm told that the movie's story deviated from the book quite a bit, and that the book is better, but I can't really weigh in on that: to be honest, I haven't actually read the first book yet, or even the second.

I started with Impulse, the third book in the series, which was released on January 8, 2013 by Tor. So, I can assure you that coming into the series late won't adversely affect your enjoyment in the slightest. I'm now curious to read the earlier adventures in the series, but Impulse gave me all the background I needed to understand what was going on, and without any troublesome info-dumps, no less.

“Jumping” is the in-world term for teleportation, and there are exactly three people capable of it: protagonist Cent (short for Millicent) and her parents, the protagonists of the previous books, who are still POV characters in this one. The story never explains why they can jump, but it does get pretty deep into the physics of how jumping works, and Cent uses her understanding of science to explore the skill in ways her parents have never thought of.

While I understand previous books dealt more with murky political machinations, this book deviates from that, focusing more on the ethics of parenting: how much freedom is unsafe, how much control is stifling, and how to balance those. Given that she was essentially raised in isolation, Cent adapts suspiciously easily to social environments, but that's a minor complaint at best, and I still loved her and her story.

My favorite thing about this book is that it made me want to go learn about new things, or relearn things I've forgotten: everything from Boyle's Law to international relief efforts to Jane Austen's publishing history. I love learning things from books, and a book that inspires me to go learn more about such a variety of subjects is an even rarer find. This book's characters are competent and intelligent, and it expects its readers to be, too.

I love that Cent doesn't choose between loving reading, physics, manga, or snowboarding; I love that she is both devious and responsible; I love that there are plot-relevant gay characters; I love that this book makes being smart cool. I could list all the things I loved in this book for pages, because it was an absolute joy to read. Happily, it looks like there will be a sequel, Exo, so I can look forward to more Cent stories in the future.


Anonymous said...

Gould actually needs to start "running" for the position. Merely tossing one's hat in and hoping to be elected isn't enough. Also, it's impossible for him to ride John Scalzi's coat tails. He's not looking very "presidential" to serve for the SFWA. See:

Liviu said...

quite an entertaining election for sfwa, no question about it

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