Jump by Sean Williams
Twinmaker series, bk 1. Allen & Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781743315866.
(Age 13+) Recommended. D-mat has revolutionised the world that Clair and Libby live in. It is a teleport system that lets people and goods travel instantaneously to anywhere in the world and has made the use of fossil fuels redundant. When a code promises people Improvement, the chance to change your appearance and make it different and better Libby is determined to try it. Clair is more sceptical and things go dangerously astray when Libby disappears. With the help of Jesse, whose Abstainer father believes that the d-mat is evil, and the mysterious online Q, Clair is in a race to rescue Libby while she and her companions are chased by mysterious killers.
As a fan of Philip K. Dick whose characters often are able to teleport themselves, I have long been fascinated by the idea of a teleport that could take you anywhere in seconds. I loved this story that put a teleportation system into an adolescent novel and pointed out the both the strengths and the weaknesses of this technology. Clair believes that the d-mat is a force for good, but is worried that the Improvement is a con that draws in insecure people and changes their personalities for the worse. Clair is a stalwart friend, who is torn by her attraction to Zep, Libby's boyfriend, but who desperately tries to find Libby when Improvement takes her over. Jessie, with his Abstainer background who refuses to use the d-mat, proves a good foil for the techno savvy Clair and Q, providing lots of thought about how technology should be used.
The world that Williams builds is an interesting dystopian one. Not much information is given about the Water Wars that had ravaged Earth, but it is easy to imagine a world where technology has taken over and where power could be held in a few hands. However it is the action that really makes this novel zip along. There are multiple chases, lots of unique baddies and a climax that leaves the reader panting for the next book.
The conclusion leaves questions unanswered and the nature of Q is a puzzle but this action packed book with its themes of technology, friendship, deception and body image should prove very popular. I can imagine it as a TV series or a movie and look forward to the next in the series.