Monday, January 4, 2010

Numbers ~ Rachel Ward review

The Chicken House
336 Pages
February 1, 2010 (US) / January 5, 2009 (UK)
Amazon US / Amazon UK

Since she was a little girl being pushed around in a stroller by her mother, Jem has seen when people are going to die. As soon as she looks someone in the eye she sees a number in her head, the date of their death. Used to be she didn't know what the numbers meant...then her mother died and she figured it all out.

Now she avoids relationships of any kind, knowing she can't get close to someone while knowing the entire time when they're going to die. It's not a great life, but it's mostly working for Jem. Until she meets Spider and he manages to worm his way past her defenses.

Jem knows things are going to be different, it's been years since she's let herself care what happened to another person, let herself be involved in someone else's life like this. And then things get more complicated when Jem and Spider take a trip to London and are waiting in line to ride the Eye.

Everyone around them has the same number, the same date of death, and it's that day.

It's the choice Jem and Spider make then that really gets the book going and where things get really interesting and develop beyond the 'Jem knows when people will die' basic story.

This book caught my attention (with the cover at first) before I even knew it was going to be released in the US and it wasn't until I'd already been reading it that I found out it was being released here as well. The idea of a girl who can look at people and know the date they're going to die is an intriguing one to be sure but it could get tired very easily.

What was great about Numbers is that the ramifications of Jem knowing when people were going to die seemed to really be thought out (and it didn't become some sort of freak show thing or something she used to get attention). And the story took off in a direction I never would have anticipated, both in the larger plot and in the individual events that happened--it really was great.

Jem and Spider (and the other characters, as well) were really interesting characters and not predictable or stereotypical either.

I'm really interested, actually, in reading the US version of this, too because I want to see what changes between the two because it seemed pretty British to me (in language at least--maybe more).

This little book (mine's paperback) was one that I definitely underestimated. It was something that I thought just sounded like...well, maybe a good gimick (Medium had an episode where she could see how many days people had left to live so it's not enitrely original), but it turned out to be about some great characters and a lot deeper than I ever woud have guessed. I know I'm definitely going to be looking for more from Rachel Ward (and the publisher-I have two books by that publisher and they're awesome!).


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