Author: Rachel Ward
Pages: 325 (Paperback)
Reason for Reading: Personal Interest
Synopsis: Ever since the day her mother died, Jem has known about the numbers. Numbers that pop into her head when she looks into someone's eyes. They're dates, the numbers. Dates predicting with brute accuracy each person's death. Burdened by such horrible knowledge, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. Maybe they can find happiness together, if only in the brief time that remains before his expiration date. But on a trip to London, Jem foresees a chilling chain of events: The city's a target. The clock's running out. The countdown is on to a blowup!
ReviewI really love the whole concept behind this book. There is a lot of potential in a story about a girl who can see the date of a person's death simply by looking at them. For me, though, this book fell a bit short.
The synopsis is incredibly misleading. When I bought the book I was expecting it to be an action packed thriller about Jem realizing something horrible was going to happen and then trying to stop it, or something along those lines. In reality, however, the terrorist attack on London, while an important plot point, holds very little significance to the story as a whole. Her realization that numerous people have the same number to when the actual attack takes place takes up only a few pages. And to be honest it was pretty anti-climactic as a whole. She notices the numbers, they run, a bomb goes off, and that's it. I hardly felt anything because the book is told through first person perspective and Jem hardly reacts at all; maybe 2 sentences tops. Then they just go home.
So if the book isn't about the terrorist attack what is it about? Well, as it turns out running away from a location just minutes before a bomb goes off looks pretty sketchy, and soon Jem and Spider are being flashed across every television screen in the country. What Numbers is actually about is Jem and Spider living on the run after the attack. I'm not sure if knowing this ahead of time would have changed my opinion about the book or not, but as it was I was pretty disappointed.
I did enjoy Jem's first person narration. I'm a sucker for bitter and sarcastic narrations, so in that respect Jem was right up my alley. If you don't like this type of narration, the book probably isn't for you. I do wish we could have seen her anger fall away a bit from time to time, though. It seems unrealistic that anyone, even someone with so cruel circumstances as Jem, could be that angry all the time. But for the most part that is really the only emotion we see, aside from a few touching scenes with Spider.
Despite the actual plot steering off from my initial expectations, this book was looking at a three star rating for most of the read through. And then the ending happened. I will be frank: I hated the ending. I was really angry with the turn the story took and it kind of ruined it a bit for me. I understand why it ended the way it did, but I still just did not like it. And it seems like it has set up the second book to be essentially the same story with different characters, so I'm not in a huge hurry to go pick it up. I might at some point, though, because the synopsis for book 3 sounds promising. We shall see!