Sunday, July 25, 2010
Numbers - Rachel Ward
Author: Rachel Ward
Publisher: Chicken House (Scholastic), 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 325 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Realistic Fiction
Started: July 20, 2010
Finished: July 25, 2010
From the author's website:
Since her mother’s death, fifteen-year-old Jem has kept a secret. When her eyes meet someone else’s, a number pops into her head – the date on which they will die. Knowing that nothing lasts forever, Jem avoids relationships, but when she meets a boy called Spider, and they plan a day out together, her life takes a new twist and turn. Waiting for the London Eye, she sees everyone in the queue has the same number – something terrible is going to happen.
Numbers is a fast-paced thriller that I would've read in one sitting if I had that much time strung together without life and school getting in the way. The concept was different but intriguing: Jem can see the date of a person's death when she looks them in the eye. As a result of this, she's got a difficult personality and hides behind her hair and inside her hoodie so she doesn't have to look at people. Having a drug addict mother who she found dead from an overdose doesn't help her situation either. Sent from foster homes to schools for troubled kids, Jem is probably one of the most pessimistic and damn prickly characters I've encountered in a long time. I like my characters prickly though, don't ask me why, perhaps it's because I usually encounter the troubled characters in a first person narrative, so you really get to the depth of the character without being overwhelmed by their personality. Granted, I'd probably have some issues if I knew when everyone I loved was going to die. If I knew when my husband or my friends were going to die right from the get-go, I probably wouldn't have gotten married or bothered to befriend people, I'd probably figure "what's the point?". The book raises some interesting points about people being overwhelmed by the thought of dying that they forget to celebrate life, enjoying the friendships and relationships you have with people while they're in the realm of the living, because when you are preoccupied with death, you never truly live.
Jem and Spider are really great characters, I loved it that I never really knew that Spider was black until halfway through the book, not like it mattered, but I liked how the author could describe him without making that an issue. They're both punk streetwise kids, but they have amazing moments of clarity, they surprise me sometimes. The other characters are also surprisingly good. Simon, the young priest at the rectory, was my particular favourite; purely because I love the unabashedly pure and naive characters that so rarely pop up in books anymore because few people can relate such a character in today's cynical world. Originally written in Britain, Numbers already has a sequel released in the UK...I'm actually tempted to order this before they release it out here, simply because the book ended on a really important point and I want to continue with the series.
One of the best Young Adult thrillers I've read in a while. If you're looking for a fast-paced, introspective read, read this!
Thoughts on the cover:
Usually going for the creepy angle goes for me, but not this one. The huge red eye is just annoying, not to mention not really related to the plot at all, though the fact that the eye is angled so that it stares at the scattered numbers is a nice touch. Compared to the original UK version, for once I prefer what the Brits have.