Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I love an unsettling cover. So I was drawn to Numbers by Rachel Ward immediately. As I suspected there's a supernatural theme to the plot. British teenager Jemma has the ability to see the date a person will die. Literally, the date of death hovers over a person's head when Jemma interacts with anybody. Jemma first figures this out as a young child when her mother dies of an overdose and her mother's "special numbers" disappear. By the time she's a teen, Jemma has been shuffled from one foster home to another, never getting close to anyone. It's hard to form attachments when you know a person's final day on this earth. So, it takes Jem by surprise when she forms an unlikely friendship with Spider, a juvenile delinquent Jem runs into when they both cut class one day. Unfortunately Spider's death date is less than a few months away, and the closer Jemma grows to Spider, the more desperate she is to learn if she can prevent his death. Then an act of terrorism in London leaves Jemma and Spider on the run. They're not responsible, but the cops think they are. If they're caught before Spider's death date, Jemma might not be able to save him. If she can at all.

I liked that the main characters in this book were the "bad" kids. I also enjoyed the London slang, which could leave some American readers puzzled. (Don't worry--you get into the swing of things pretty quickly and might even find yourself with a fake British accent by the end of the book.) This is probably an older teen read, and not quite the Twilight fan's cup of tea, because it's more realistic fiction than supernatural---although the numbers are a key part of the plot, it's easy to forget for long stretches that the story is formed around a supernatural ability. Relationships in this book rang true, in all their complications. Nothing comes easy for anyone in Numbers. I wasn't sure how the author would end the book---right up until the end, I was uncertain---and all I will say is that I found it very satisfying. The last line in particular is deliciously chilling in its punch.

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