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by Steven Gould
Tor, $14.99 TPB, 344 pp
Original copyright 1992, TPB release Aug 2014
Unlike the spawned movie in 2008, the book actually had a plot and interesting characters.  It’s always a shame when a decent book gets mauled by Hollywood.  This is being reviewed as a re-release this year.  You can pick it up as a trade paperback.

I enjoyed this book and blew through it in a couple days.  It’s a familiar topic in many ways:  abused child grows up and gets revenge, abused child learns how to take control of own life, abused child finds love and purpose. But it still speaks to those who “have been there.”  I think teens and young adults will find a lot with which to identify.

Davy is seventeen as the story begins and is enduring yet another brutal beating from his father.  His mother has been gone since he was twelve, where or why is unknown to him.  At the moment of pain and terror, Davy finds himself in safe, comforting surroundings – the city library.  He reasons that he somehow got away from his father and fled to the library with no memory of the trip.  He leaves home after that and while on the road is attacked and almost raped – again he found himself at the city library.  This time he can’t reason that he walked there, he’d been 900 miles from home. With some experimentation, he discovers that he can jump to any location he can envision.  He goes home to find his drunken father passed out, takes several hundred dollars, packs a suitcase and heads to NYC.  He thinks of killing him but doesn’t.

He tries everything he can think of to find honest work.  He disdains the idea of stealing food or clothes; he jumps to his father’s house from time to time for food and clean clothes.  But without identification: birth certificate, driver’s license, etc., no jobs are available.  In desperation, he finally decides to rob a bank; reasoning that no individuals would be hurt by the theft.  He takes over a million, enough to live on for a great long while.  He reads and travels – a lot.  One night, at a Broadway show, he meets a young woman, Millie.  He cultivates a friendship and eventually, it grows into something more.

After a year, he feels older and more confident and begins wondering what happened to his grandfather.  He visits the house and discovers the man died a year before; but, more importantly, he learns his mother was there for the funeral.  Her lawyer refuses to tell Davy her location but agrees to deliver a letter.  Eventually, she agrees to meet Davy.  She had not left him by design but, rather, to save her own life.  She was so damaged and traumatized, she spent a year in a psychiatric ward after the surgery to save her.  She had attempted to contact him and sent presents, none of which made it to Davy past his father.  The two connect and begin a healing process.  But the visit is over far too soon and his mother must return to her job which takes her abroad.  Her plane is hijacked and she is tragically murdered by the hijacker.

The event unhinges Davy and he begins a crusade to track down the hijacker.  His actions bring him to the attention of a shadowy government agency when he abandons caution.  He becomes known to the whole world as he stops one hijacking after another, but not finding the terrorist who killed his mother.  And the government agency becomes more aggressive in their efforts to capture him.  Eventually, it becomes a race between Davy finding the terrorist and the government trying to capture him.  When the government agency kidnaps his love, Millie, Davy is pushed to consider his ethics and principles – what is he willing to do to save Millie?

This was pure escapism to begin with - who wouldn’t be attracted by the idea of instant and free travel to anywhere you can imagine?  There was also some satisfaction to be had as Davy found revenge on those who hurt him or others – but without killing them.  But it didn’t really get exciting until he started hunting terrorists.  It was fascinating to watch him honing his abilities and preparing himself.  It was fun to watch him evaluate how he could use his ability to protect himself without hurting anyone.  But by the time he was confronting the government agent hunting him who kidnapped Millie, the terrorist who killed his mother, and, finally, confronting his own father – I was ready for him to commit a little mayhem.  I thoroughly enjoyed the story resolutions; although, I think he did more for his father than was deserved.

This was well-plotted, the characters were fully realized and sympathetic.  The pace was just right.  I just can’t find anything negative to say…except that the author shouldn’t have sold out to Hollywood.  A real movie would have been worth seeing. ~~ Catherine Book

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