Book Review: One Jump Ahead by Mark L. Van Name


I bought this book on a whim. I saw the blurbs on the back and decided that it was worth buying, though I hadn’t heard of Mark L. Van Name at the time. Ultimately, I was glad for the purchase!

One Jump Ahead is a space opera, adventure science fiction book. The protagonist is Jon Moore, and his intelligent ship-sized drone named Lobo. The book has well-developed characters and an interesting setting. Not to mention the mysteries of the jump gates are something I hope gets explored in future installments.

The story begins with Jon attempting to rescue a girl for a bounty. Apparently there are corporations and a complicated political structure for power, and Jon is in the middle of it. He also demonstrates his unique abilities using nanotechnology. His nanomachines are able to do his will when he concentrates, leading to creative uses for the technology.

As the story moves along, it reveals how Jon got Lobo as his companion, and what happened to him to cause him to have the technology. However, one element that’s dangled in front of readers is his sister Jennie, who is never really shown.

The book seems to get a little distracted and almost seems to have been birthed over time rather than from an outline. I say this because it feels like ideas are brought up the chapter before they’re introduced, which includes a main character that accompanies Jon, who is brought in half-way into the book. It’s not bad or distracting, but it can feel confusing when elements aren’t set up early enough.

Jon Moore had a lot going on as the main character, and as the narrator he was an interesting person to follow. However, I felt like he didn’t explain well enough how he got the way he was. Mostly he seemed to be mostly against killing, but didn’t really give too many reasons why. It’s an interesting dichotomy to show the people who want to kill versus those who don’t. Jon didn’t seem to have fully explained himself, although there was a brief mention of it three-quarters of the way through.

Ultimately, though, I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. One Jump Ahead is the kind of science fiction I love: a fun adventure with interesting ideas. I can’t wait to read Slanted Jack, the sequel.