Impulse

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Impulse Book Poster Image
Edgy sequel to Jumper is best for older teens.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Impulse takes the implications of teleportation very seriously, and the characters take pains to work out how the laws of physics would actually apply to a seemingly magical power. The book also demonstrates a knowledge of the vocabulary and tactics of snowboarding. Scenes set in Bangladesh illustrate the effects of climate change on refugee populations.

Positive Messages

Many of the plot strands in Impulse involve characters facing up to their worst fears and determining what things are truly dangerous and which are merely scary. No easy answers are provided, but the fact that actions have real consequences is stressed throughout the book.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cent is depicted as a well-rounded 16-year-old: curious, athletic, good at academics. She also has an impulsive streak that can lead her into unexpected trouble. She sticks up for the underdog and even finds empathy for some of her enemies. She's physically and emotionally brave, with a tender heart.

Violence

Although there isn't much actual bloodshed until one shoot-out, the threat of violence hangs over the book. Cent is bullied at school by an older girl, nicknamed Caffeine. Caffeine and her cohorts physically abuse some freshman boys, who are being sexually blackmailed. Cent finds ways to combat Caffeine and her gang, sometimes resorting to minor violence. In another subplot, four girls escape from a brothel in Bangladesh and are almost recaptured by their "landlord."

Sex

Cent is clearly interested in romance and the possibility of sex. She has a crush on one character, then begins dating another boy. They kiss passionately but aren't depicted as being more physically intimate. Her mother reminds her about condom use. Three boys are blackmailed by a surreptitious sex tape, and a few details about its contents are revealed. (The sex is consensual but embarrassing for a teen boy.)

Language

The language in Impulse is strong, although not gratuitously so. More than a dozen instances of "f--k" are used by both adults and teens. Variations of "hell," "damn," "bitch," "p---y," "a--hole," and "s--t" are also used in conversation, usually in scenes of strong emotion. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A high school drug ring plays a major role in the plot, but there are no scenes of teens using them. One of the villains smokes. One supporting character attempts suicide with prescription pills.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Impulse is a continuation of the story that began in the classic YA science fiction novel Jumper. Main character Cent is a well-rounded, brave, tenderhearted 16-year-old who sticks up for the underdog and even finds empathy for some of her enemies. Although there's little depiction of bloodshed except in one scene of a shoot-out, the threat of violence hangs over the whole novel, as characters are bullied and assaulted. A group of freshmen is blackmailed by a sex tape. There's also some kissing, and birth control is discussed. And there's a fair bit of strong language, including more than a dozen uses of "f--k."

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What's the story?

Like her parents Davy and Millie, Cent (short for \"Millicent\") is able to \"jump\" -- i.e. teleport to any spot she has visited in the world or been able to visualize clearly. Afraid of attracting the attention of the criminal conspiracy that nearly devastated her parents' lives, Cent nevertheless wants a normal high school education after 16 years at home. But as she tries to establish her independence, she ultimately places her entire family in jeopardy.

Is it any good?

IMPULSE is a welcome new volume in the sequence of science fiction novels that began with Jumper. Author Steven Gould is adept at following all the consequences of the science fictional premise and proves that he still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve regarding the possibilities of teleportation.

The level of suspense is high, but the book also has quieter moments where Cent grapples with feeling like an outsider. The novel's language, violence, and sexual content may bother some sensitive readers, but those who can handle some bumps will be rewarded.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Impulse compares with previous books in the series that started with Jumper. Why is Jumper considered a classic?

  • Why do you think teleportation is such a popular theme in science fiction?

  • What are the best ways to deal with bullies? When and how should parents, school authorities, and the police be involved?

  • How does the book depict/handle issues related to sex?

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