With her superlative parkour skills, Yas is a Black Pakistani Spider Woman. A sometimes verbal neurodivergent White youth, Hansel (AKA Han) has a passion for secret infrastructure navigation. Always observant and detail-oriented, he also knows the value of paying attention. The Korean team member, a transgender boy named Daeshim (AKA Spider) has hacking skills and has earned fame for his technology wizardry and his “mad connections.” The fourth member, a biracial teen, Jax is the official puzzler and team captain who hashes out cryptology clues with his ability to see several dimensions by unraveling, detangling, and sorting. Each youth comprises a cornerstone of the cryptology team JERICHO, and this “quintessential quad” serves as protagonists in Brittney Morris’ latest novel, The Jump.

Inspired by the Cicada 3301 puzzle, Morris set out to write about a group of young adults who encounter such a puzzle and seek to solve it. Motivated not only by the ability to employ their unique skill sets, each teen has a personal stake in the game. The winners are promised power, and each member of JERICHO wishes to make the world a better place.

Set in Puget Sound and told from the four teen’s perspectives, the plot of Morris’ novel revolves around solving internet puzzles designed by and for the brightest minds. The most recent puzzle has been posted by an unknown, mysterious organization known as The Order. Purportedly omniscient, The Order is an “extremely secretive, exclusive group bent on bringing to justice the untouchable elite” (20). Fond of their social justice vigilante mission, Jax hopes to join the organization some day in order to take down corporate greed, especially in the form of the oil conglomerate Roundworld, which plans to erect a refinery on the six-acre plot that currently serves as his mama’s community garden. Love Garden feeds entire neighborhoods, providing organically grown, nutritious vegetables to those without the resources to buy them.

Jax encounters a dilemma when he meets another team’s gymnast who is fighting to save her dad’s job at Roundworld where he works for the coveted medical benefits. Sigge’s younger brother has leukemia. Now Jax has to choose between another family’s medical care and his family’s food supply.

Readers go on these digital scavenger hunts with the teams involved. Along the way, we also learn some important morals. One of those suggests we never let ambition ruin a friendship. Another reminds us that street smarts alone won’t outwit some enemies.

  • Posted by Donna

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