Monday, February 8, 2010
Review: Numbers by Rachel Ward
Synopsis: Ever since she was child, Jem has kept a secret: Whenever she meets someone new, no matter who, as soon as she looks into their eyes, a number pops into her head. That number is a date: the date they will die. Burdened with such awful awareness, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. The two plan a trip to the city. But while waiting to ride the Eye ferris wheel, Jem is terrified to see that all the other tourists in line flash the same number. Today's number. Today's date. Terrorists are going to attack London. Jem's world is about to explode!
I was really excited by the premise of this story. What a terrible ability to have. I would not want to look at people and see their death day number flash through my head. No thanks. Well, Jem does not want this "talent" either. When a classmate, Spider, starts to become her friend, rather than just another classmate, she really does not want this ability because she sees that his death day is very, very close. Nonetheless, Jem cannot resist Spider's friendly behavior, his chatty laughter, and his Nan, a woman with some talent of her own. They plan a trip to the city to go on the London Eye except that never happens because Jem sees a terrible truth: people are going to die. She hustles Spider away from the scene, which proves to be a big mistake because the London Eye explodes in a terrorist attack and now, Jem and Spider are the number one suspects.
Now, here is where my issues with this story come in because I really, really wished Jem and Spider hadn't fled. Maybe its the optimist in me but honestly, I would think the police would realize very quickly that these two did nothing to orchestrate this attack and are not really suspects. Instead, by running, they look guiltier than ever.
Now, Jem's talent kind of becomes a very secondary part of the story as Jem and Spider flee across the country and this book turns into kind of a romance/relationship story. While I can see that these bad circumstances could perhaps force feelings that would normally take longer to develop, I just truly did not believe in the romance aspect of the story. These two made great mates, but somehow, the romance just made it seem awkward for me. Both of these characters have heavy issues. Jem knows Spider is not going to live much longer, but lets sleep together anyway. This of course just perpetuates the cycle Jem professes to want to end.
Then the author throws in a religious aspect, bring up Jem's talent again and putting it in a new light. This third segment of the story again felt slightly off. The story as a whole just was not very cohesive and these elements did not come together very smoothly. The premise was very interesting but I just wish it had played out better, particularly with the terrorist attack. I think there were several options the author could have chosen to more fully explore Jem's ability but in the end, it seemed like the author chose the easiest route, plot wise.
There is a sequel in the works so I am interested to see how that turns out. Going by the ending, it could be very interesting or it could completely fall apart.
Numbers certainly caught my attention but the book unfortunately did not work for me as a whole. There were parts I enjoyed, particularly Jem and Spider's friendship, and trying to understand Jem's ability, but add in a wild hunt, some religion and it all became too much for the plot to handle.