Published: January 5th 2009, Chicken House
Pages: 285 pages, paperback
Acquired: Sent for review by Chicken House
Summary (from Goodreads): 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.
My review: Numbers is the story of Jem, a teenage girl who sees the death date of anybody who she makes eye contact with. It’s a secret that she’s kept deep inside and it’s had her labelled as a ‘problem child’ since her mother died of a drug overdose when she was a young girl. She’s been moved from foster home to foster home and is careful never to form attachments to anybody.
However, one day she meets Spider and everything changes. Spider is carefree and positive, though his life hasn’t been straightforward either. The two fall into an unlikely friendship and plan a day out to London together. It’s here that Jem witnesses a group of people who all have the same numbers and realises something is really wrong – from this point on the story really picks up the pace and the action begins.
The first half of the book is quite slow; we get to know Jem and Spider, we get to know their pasts, about their families. The two characters are very well developed, especially Spider who I really grew to like. Jem is slightly hostile, for obvious reasons, but it was difficult to warm to her at first because of this. As the book moved forward though we did get to see a softer side to Jem which made me much more sympathetic towards her.
Once Jem and Spider really begin their journey the tone of the book changes somewhat. It becomes darker, grittier and this is something I really enjoyed. The pace is fast, the action doesn’t stop coming right until the last moment and there’s barely time to pause for breath before the next plot twist.
It’s not something that bothers me but there is some violence and mature language in Numbers, so younger readers should approach with caution if this is something that’s likely to offend.
Numbers is something completely different from anything I’ve read before and I really did enjoy it. Ward is a great writer and I’m really excited about reading the second book in the series – I won’t say too much about the second book as it does give away the ending of Numbers but it sounds brilliant. If you’re looking for a fast-paced read that will draw you into a whole new world then I’d suggest checking out Numbers.
First line: ‘There are places where kids like me go.’
Read if you liked...: iBoy – Kevin Brooks
Total: 16/20 (B+)