Translated from German by Romy Fursland
Books are portals to other worlds accessed via the reader’s imagination. But what if it was possible to enter those worlds physically and interact with the characters. That’s the gift that Amy Lennox has inherited; not that she knows anything about it until her teenage years, when her mother, Alexis, decides that the best thing for both of them, following a period of extreme stress, is to return home from Germany to the Scottish island of Stormsay for rest and recuperation. There she meets her grandmother, the formidable Lady Mairead, who insists that Amy attends lessons with Betsy and William Macalister, daughter and nephew of the island’s laird. Alexis is opposed. Something to do with her own experiences, but Lady Mairead is insistent.
So Amy becomes a book jumper. She has a role to fulfill. A book jumper’s mission is to protect the canon, and there are strict rules. A book jumper must not interfere with the plot, must not visit the margins, should always stay within the boundaries of book through which (s)he entered the book world and should never, ever, ever bring anything or anyone back into the real world.
So when the body of Sherlock Holmes is found drifting off the island of Stormsay, we know something has gone very, very wrong. Yet this is just the beginning …
Someone is stealing major plot devices from the canon of world literature. And once a plot device has been stolen, copies of the book in the real world reflect the new storyline. No wonder readers are complaining about the revised Pride and Prejudice in which the Bennett sisters do not go to the ball, their coach having crashed and Elizabeth having broken her leg on the way. Amy and Will join forces to retrieve stolen plotlines and prevent further thefts.
Amy has two willing assistants in the book world. Shere Khan from The Jungle Book, laconic, in control and Amy’s protector, (when he’s not got a scene in the book to attend) and Werther, who true to form is whiny, and completely miserable in unrequited love (though not necessarily with Lotte). He’s an absolute darling, such a gentleman to Miss Amy and he does put himself in harm’s way (when he can summon up the courage). Werther’s real problem is that he must compete with Will Macalister for Amy’s affections.
Ah yes, young love, the course of which does not always run smooth. There must be a reason why the book characters don’t take to Will in the way they take to Amy. So too why Amy’s book-jumping skills are way beyond Will’s. Though that, funnily enough, is a consequence of Alexis’s book-jumping years. True, Amy may break the rules, but she’s a rank amateur in comparison to her mother!
If Enzenberger’s time-travel novel (with which I began GLM VIII) is designed to spark young adult interest in history, Gläser’s Book Jumper surely must spark or deepen a pre-existing interest in world literature. In these pages we journey through fairy tale, fable, medieval chivalric romance, visiting classics by Shakespeare, Goethe, Austen, Carroll, Dickens, Kipling and Kafka amongst others. I don’t think it matters whether the original work has already been read. There’s sufficient explanation of the plotline targeted for theft, but not enough to spoil the original for those who will go on to read it afterwards. Of which there will be many. As I said at the beginning, books are portals to other worlds, and The Book Jumper is a delightful YA portal to the world of classic literature.