Cover of The Jump by Brittney Morris. four kids in a city setting: a Black boy stands on a van next to a Korean boy with a laptop and VR headset. A white boy stands next to them and a Pakistani girl in a burka swings from a lamppost

Cover Story: Might as Well Jump
Drinking Buddy: My Round
Talky Talk:  Jumping Jack Flash
Bonus Factors: Racial Awareness, Neurodivergence
Bromance Status: Jump for My Love

Cover Story: Might as Well Jump

I don’t always care for covers that don’t allow us to form our own mental images of the characters, but with four POVs, it was kind of a helpful memory aid when I was still trying to match names with characters.

The Deal:

Team JERICHO is the greatest scavenger-hunting team in all of Seattle. The quartet is perfect: Jax, the guy who can unravel any clue; Yas, the parkour acrobat who can leap tall fences in a single bound; Spider, the technology expert; and Han, who can pass unnoticed through the sewers and underplex. It’s a fun hobby.

But when an oil company wants to build a refinery in the middle of the Puget sound, everything starts to fall apart. Jax’s parents will lose their community garden, a source of food for many financially strapped people. Han’s father will lose his kayaking business. Yas and Spider’s family businesses would probably go under as well.

Enter The Order, a mysterious, legendary organization. They propose a scavenger hunt, with a reward of unlimited power. If Team JERICHO could win, they could send the refinery packing. Make all their dreams come true.

But Team ROYAL also wants power. A trio of rich kids, they’re willing to do whatever it takes to win this contest. And with the police, the city government, their families, and their own infighting threatening to tear the team apart, is this chase really worth it?

Drinking Buddy: My Round

Two pints of beer cheersing

I love me a good heist book, and I love a good eclectic team. With four points of view we get to cover a lot of ground, both physically and emotionally. And in a city like Seattle, we obviously are not going to be stuck with four white main characters.

That being said, sometimes I felt like I was watching a movie cast by someone who was told to ‘be more diverse.’ We have four main characters, only 250 pages, and sometimes it felt like the author was trying to tick off as many boxes as she could. Jax is Black AND has a non-binary Wiccan parent. Yas is Pakistani-American, Muslim, AND lesbian. Spider is Korean-American AND trans. Han is neurodivergent. The leader of the anti-refinery movement is Native American. One of team ROYAL’s members is Belorussian. I felt like every time a new character was introduced, the author was thinking ‘what race/nationality/sexuality/disability haven’t I used yet?’ Books can been a great opportunity to understand people unlike us, but the only thing I learned about these cultures was examples of their food.

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (intense action, mild violence)

This was one of those books where you say you’ll stop reading after this chapter, and then the author leaves us a cliffhanger and you have to read twenty more pages until their character comes around again. Some of the action was a little over the top, but in this sort of book, that’s expected. A fast paced read, without a lot of unnecessary descriptions of the wallpaper and almost no romance.

Talky Talk:  Jumping Jack Flash

When writing multiple POVs, the danger is always that the character voices will run together and the reader will have to check the chapter name to remind them of who’s head we’re in. I didn’t have that problem here. And the author didn’t fall into the trope of the Black character, the Muslim character, the Korean character, etc. Instead we have the urban explorer, the acrobatic athlete, the hacker, and the puzzlemaster. And when they start infighting, it’s fun to see the arguments from everyone’s perspective.

Bonus Factor: Racial Awareness

Faces of all different races, ethnicities and genders.

So when a team commits to a scavenger hut, it’s going to involve a lot of snooping, exploration, racing through alleys, and minor trespassing. All in good fun. Except team JERICHO is 3/4 people of color, and there are different rules. Seeing a Black guy sprinting down the street, a girl in a burka snooping around a construction site, or a kid who has trouble speaking to strangers lurking in the shadows, might end very badly. Most of the kids’ families have forbidden them to take part in these stunts.

In a powerful scene, team ROYAL frames Jax for a crime, and a Black ROYAL laughs as Jax is handcuffed…only to be arrested himself because…well, you know.

Bonus Factor: Neurodivergence

Silhouette of a woman sitting sadly on the floor in front of a balcony

Han is neurodivergent (though the book never gives a specific diagnosis). Sometimes he can’t talk, not even to his friends. Loud noises freak him out. If his father loses his job, he might be forced to live with his mother, who abandoned him. But his teammates love him. Understand him. Work with him.

Except when they don’t. The team realizes the next clue is a series of numbers on a sticker on the bottom of a Dumpster and they text Han to ‘get the numbers.’ But he panics. Do they mean to copy the numbers? Photograph the numbers? Take the sticker? Take the Dumpster? Unsure of what to do, he swipes the sticker, a huge no-no in the scavenger hunt game. This leads team ROYAL to think the JERICHOs are playing for blood and now anything goes, so they respond in kind (see above). The JERICHOs are furious with Han and he kind of goes into hiding for a while. He didn’t mean to screw up, he just understands things differently. Why is everyone always so mad at him all the time?

Bromance Status: Jump for My Love

Unbelievable at times? Sure. But it’s rare to find a character-driven action novel. I’ll read more from this author.

Literary Matchmaking

Ready Player One (Ready Player One #1)

Ernest Kline’s Ready Player One, the ultimate scavenger hunt book.

The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games #1)

The Inheritance Games series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is another great ‘follow the clues’ story.

Five Flavors of Dumb

Antony John’s Five Flavors of Dumb is another Valentine to the great city of Seattle.

FCC full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but no money. Or did I? What do you suppose this series of numbers means? And who is this ISBN guy?

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.