The Book Jumper/Die Buchspringer
by Mechthild Glaser
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.
The Book Jumper has a fascinating idea at its core—the idea that all literary worlds run on the same plane, exist in the same universe, and that they run like clockwork. Each day, the story starts fresh with characters who are not only self-aware as regards their roles and abilities in the world, but have the autonomy to make different choices that might fundamentally alter the story in every copy in the world, based off that master copy on Stormsay. Glaser somehow manages to convey characters' unique worlds and characters, yet add a new voice and viewpoint as well. One of my favorite parts of the book is the existence of margins and the idea that there is a little town where all sorts of characters can interact between their scenes, grab a casual drink, and relax together.
The tone and tension were also done very well to the point I was literally perched on the edge of my seat as I read through certain parts. This includes tension between characters and tension within the plot and mysterious thief. It's difficult to surprise me when it comes to plot twists and mystery, but somehow The Book Jumper managed to do just that by the end. The main antagonist is unexpected, multi-layered, and there is enough emotional attachment that it stuns when they eventually come to light.
As for romance (because I cannot abide a book without at least a flicker of it), the author did a superb job with this novel. It was slow, subtle, and completely lovely to watch it develop through the course of the book. I won't say which characters or how it ends, but this is one that does not disappoint!
Amy, herself, is complex and intriguing to watch as she finds her voice and footing and grows throughout the novel. My favorite character overall was Will, as he has an even more complicated background than the protagonist and more layers. You're never quite sure what to expect him to say or do, and he's not tied to either particular family or grouping strongly enough; he's judged based off of himself, and I love that.
I don't have much critique for this book beyond the fact that I think occasionally, some emotional nuance was rushed or dropped due to the fact it's been translated from German to English. There were a couple of places where the pacing may have been a touch rushed, or where I'd have liked for Glaser to slow down and round out a scene before moving to the next, but I think this may either be a cultural difference in writing styles or mistranslation. Abruptness does have its place, but occasionally a rapid change of Point of View would throw me off for a second as well.
Finally, I have a love/hate mix of feelings when it comes to the ending. Again, it could be a cultural writing style difference at work here that left me wanting, based off having the same feeling with a few French films I've seen. That said, part of the ending was absolutely amazing and the core loose ends were wrapped up satisfactorily. The only thing I didn't love was its open-endedness as regards a few of the minor characters and subplots. These aside, it's still a wonderful read and certainly worth your time!
4 out of 5 Magpies