Book Cover
Title Hopscotch
Series ---
Author Kevin J. Anderson
Cover Art Bruce Jensen
Publisher Bantam Books - 2002
First Printing Bantam Books - 2002
Category ---
Warnings None

Main Characters

Eduard, Garth, Teresa, Daragon

Main Elements ---

Suppose you could switch bodies with another person? What exciting new experiences would you chose to explore? What forbidden desires would you indulge? Suppose someone stole your life - how far would you go to get it back?

From New York Times bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson comes a pure adrenaline thriller of hijacked identities, elusive motives, and deeply buried secrets - a disturbing, thought-provoking excursion into a sleek, hedonistic society where nothing is your own...not even our soul.

For a fee, Eduard Swan will swap bodies with people in distress - those facing surgeries, emotional crises, moments of unpleasantness or discomfort they can't or would rather not deal with. Eduard will experience the suffering for them. It's a lucrative business, and in a world in which no one is required to feel any pain, there is no end of clients. But someone doesn't want to play by the rules. Someone doesn't want to return his body. And, unfortunately for Eduard, that someone is one of the world's most powerful men. Now Eduard has no choice but to steal back his life.

He has the perfect alibi - or so he thinks. For even in a world whre you can hopscotch from body to body, you always leave a trail. And following that trail is a relentless dispenser of "justice" named Daragon, a childhood friend, now a zealous and ambitious agent of state security, who won't let old friendships stand in the way of doing his duty.

When Eduard goes on the run, hounded at every turn by Daragon, his only hope is two other childhood friends: Garth, a tormented artist who gains success beyond his wildest dreams, only to discover the terrible price of fame; and Teresa, a spiritual seeker who risks losing her own body to a fanatical religious cult as she embarks on a harrowing quest to find her true identity.

Moving from underground hopscotch pleasure bars to the highest enclaves of power to a seamy underworld of illegal Phantoms, ancient minds who steal younger bodies in a quest for eternal life, Eduard and his friends seek the meaning of identity in a society in which appearances mean everything - and nothing - and where everything is relative...even murder.

I'll start with the one bad thing and get it out of the way. The characters were too perfect. I'm not saying they didn't make mistakes and such, but even the "bad" guy Daragon wasn't a bad person. These characters were different ranges of strange but they were all wonderfully nice and good intentioned people underneath the mistakes they made. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the characters lacked depth and dimension.

Or maybe that isn't actually a bad thing. I was really drawn in by these characters, and because they were such good people at the core, you really wanted them to turn out ok. They made me wish I had a group of friends that I was that close to. But then, if you could share your body with your friends and not just your clothes, it would have the effect of bringing you closer together...that is unless you live in a world where switching bodies was as normal as switching clothes.

I spent a lot of time while reading this book thinking about what it would be like to swap bodies. It would certainly be interesting to switch genders for example. And of course, if you can manage it, perpetually switching to a younger body would ensure immortality, though you'd be hardpressed to find a legal way to do this unless you were very, very rich. But there is always the risk of losing your body, whether you had to sell it for money, or someone stole it from you. It made me realize I'm rather attached to my body, I couldn't imagine someone borrowing it, dying, and then me being stuck forever in a form that wasn't mine. Even if it was a better body, stronger/healthier/prettier, it still wouldn't be *mine*. And if you wanted a body of say, a dancer, it doesn't mean you can dance. Your mind still wouldn't know the steps even though the body would give you the physical potential you may not have had before. I found all these implications of what a single new "power" far more fascinating than the story itself. Of course it was at the core of the story so perhaps they are actually one and the same.

So do I recommend this book? Yes, I do. For all its faults, it was thought-provoking and enjoyable. Will everyone like it? No, if your characters need to be real you'll may find your pleasure of the narrative soured by the "walking, talking, stereotypes" as I saw one review describe them.

Posted: September 2009


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