Sunday, July 10, 2016
Though Chicoan Cathy Chase is retired from teaching English, she remains active by teaching a jobs readiness class at the Esplanade House and by writing a series of Young Adult novels about a world very like our own—with one big difference.
In the world of “Jump” ($8.99 in paperback from CreateSpace; also for Amazon Kindle), the first in a planned series, people have a habit of disappearing. That doesn’t mean they poof out of existence, but that they are electronically transported to another place, an authoritarian society designed to reshape the oddballs and ne’er-do-wells into compliant citizens.
Nona, the heroine, is fifteen. Her father died in a car accident; his passenger, Frank, was unable to save him, and now Frank is her step-father. Nona’s mother seems oblivious to the abuse Frank heaps on Nona; it’s clear that he wants Nona out of his life so he can have Nona’s mother all to himself.
Nona’s two friends, Spence and Jana, are inseparable, and when Jana’s Uncle John becomes one of the “disappeared,” the trio set out to find him. They have heard references to “jumping,” but no adult will talk to them about what it means.
Then Nona comes across an old notebook from her newspaper reporter father, and she learns that somehow jumping is connected with the mysterious Behavioral Science building in town, where Spence’s mom works. The trio manage to get into the building and there are the transporters.
Nona volunteers to go (“I’m the only one that no one wants” at home). Spence pushes the button. “I hear a loud windy sound near my head and lights swirl in my brain.”
What follows is a fast-paced adventure in a strange society, with plenty of cliff-hangers, as Nona tries to outsmart her minders, search for Uncle John (she finds more than she bargains for), escape those with terminator weapons (where you really do poof out of existence) and somehow get home. Often Nona is on the verge of giving up, but she learns courage with a little help from her friends. The message is clear: It’s not over until it’s really over.
There’s a satisfying conclusion, but loose ends remain for the next tale.