The Book Jumper
By Mechthild Gläser
Amy Lennox doesn’t know quite what to expect when she and her mother pick up and leave Germany for Scotland, heading to her mother’s childhood home of Lennox House on the island of Stormsay.
Amy’s grandmother, Lady Mairead, insists that Amy must read while she resides at Lennox House—but not in the usual way. It turns out that Amy is a book jumper, able to leap into a story and interact with the world inside. As thrilling as Amy’s new power is, it also brings danger: someone is stealing from the books she visits, and that person may be after her life. Teaming up with fellow book jumper Will, Amy vows to get to the bottom of the thefts—at whatever cost.
***I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.***
As soon as I saw the cover and read the synopsis I knew I had to read this book. What book lover hasn’t dreamed of jumping into their favorite book or series and meeting the characters they have come to know and love? Of watching their favorite scenes play out right before their eyes? I have had that dream numerous times and felt that reading this book would almost be like looking into those dreams.
The Book Jumper is a wonderful manifestation of any bibliophile’s wish to be immersed in the amazing world of literature. I enjoyed it so much that when I wasn’t reading it I was talking or thinking about it. As I expected, I loved the world Amy discovered in Stormsay; the past that, until her arrival on the island of her ancestors, her mother had kept hidden from her for so many years. But, of course, The Book Jumper isn’t just about Amy’s newfound abilities. There is an element of mystery as Amy and her new friends (both the real and the literary) try to discover who is behind the thefts from the book world – thefts that result in chaos and the rapid deterioration of the stories we all know.
When I read books with mystery/whodunnit plots, I always try to compete with the characters solving the mystery in question. I strive to put together the clues and spot the red herrings before the characters can. It’s an odd trait but it adds to my enjoyment of the book. Sometimes I’m right in my deductions, sometimes not. I am happy to say that The Book Jumper kept me guessing up to the surprising reveal, and while at one point I had guessed the culprit correctly, Gläser is so great at presenting red herrings and making you second-guess your interpretations that I had ultimately settled on an entirely different theory (and suspect) by the end.
A really interesting fact about The Book Jumper is that it was originally published in Germany in 2015. And while it is to be expected from a major publishing house, the translation is flawless; at least, from what I could see. It is, of course, hard to tell which stylistic aspects are that of Gläser and that of the translator(s). I’m not sure how the translation process is handled in a publishing house, but I assume the integrity of the writing is preserved even if the phrases and idioms used are potentially determined by the language itself. Either way, the result is wonderful: well-written and easy to read without gaudy or flowery language. I particularly liked the use of snippets of a fairy tale as frames for the chapters. These snippets not only come together to form an important fairy tale but also help to identify the tone and consequences of events in the chapters they frame.
There is a great diversity of characters in the book, with Amy, Will, and Alexis (Amy’s mother) being the most developed. The book is told primarily through Amy’s eyes, but several chapters are focused on Will and his thoughts and experiences. And while I enjoyed both Amy and Will, they were not my favorite characters. In fact, my favorite characters were not people at all, but places. Stormsay and the literary world that Amy discovered through jumping are truly characters in their own right. Both have their own personalities: Stormsay a moody bastion jutting out from the sea and the book world is a lighter, brighter, and more pleasant place (despite the thefts and smattering of danger). Whenever Amy jumped into a book I imagined a brighter world, touched by more color and vibrancy than the “regular” world. Stormsay, like a foil to the book world it gave access to, was a dour, speculative place, with gray skies and strong, freezing winds. However, it goes without saying that Stormsay gave me total library-envy.
I wish the book could have gone on a bit longer. Not only because I truly enjoyed the world and the idea of book-jumping, but because I felt like it ended rather abruptly after the climax finished. I know it’s not usually recommended to linger on the final scenes and closing actions. Still, I really feel like some resolutions (minor but nevertheless interesting) were left out or cut short.While the major plot lines were wrapped up, there were other aspects that weren’t quite touched upon at the end even though they were referenced numerous times throughout the rest of the novel. I wanted to see how these things ended, not because they were necessarily important to the main plot but because were part of the minutiae of Amy’s new world and still contribute to the experience.
Gläser built such a wonderful world in The Book Jumper. The lore was well-conceived and I enjoyed learning about Stormsay and book jumping as Amy did. It was, as I imagined, great fun to visit numerous books even if it was only through Amy’s eyes. I particularly liked how self-aware the characters of the book world were; that prevented a load of potential issues with book jumping and made Amy’s interactions with the characters all the more interesting. I also like that there are defined rules to book-jumping. These rules made the whole concept more realistic and less arbitrary. Without these rules and guidelines, I feel like book-jumping would have quickly become a disastrous and messy feat.
The Book Jumper is certainly a book for book lovers. Part of me hopes Gläser might write a sequel so I can enjoy more book-jumping and venture through new stories with Amy while another, more substantial part of me is glad it is a stand-alone. It allows me to make my own inferences and leaves much to the imagination which, after all, is why I love reading in the first place.