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.
©2009 Rachel Ward (P)2011 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
I read and review Young Adult lit!
I think the summary provided for Numbers was more than a little misleading.
The story was not really about Gem's ability to see people’s death dates or what happens when she realises there will be a terrorist attack in London because of her ability.
I was expecting a high-concept fantasy, young-adult spy sort of thing - something fun with a bit of action hanging on the really interesting premise/supernatural ability. You might even say I was expecting something a bit more ‘American’.
Numbers was in fact the bleak and foreboding story of two teens trying to escape London projects, circumstance, fate and the police.
The characterisation of the two downtrodden, demoralised and marginalised leads is utterly incredible. Furthermore, the prose and the voices are fantastic (though is doesn’t exactly fit with the barely literate background of Gem). In this respect, Numbers is easily one of the most well-written YA books I’ve read.
Sadly though, the story just didn’t do anything for me. The book is in fact a fugitive tale which I do not enjoy. If you like a ‘living on the run’ story, it might be more for you.
In addition the story falls completely flat in the third act; it literally grinds to a halt. Absolutely nothing comes of some really great set-ups which is disappointing and frustrating. To top it off there’s a bit of religion and lofty theology thrown in at the eleventh hour but not explored or developed as thoroughly as it should be – a pet peeve of mine.
I also mentioned the ominous tone of the story. It is meant to feel like that, feel as suffocating as the life of someone like Gem would be but I don’t find this enjoyable. Yes, maybe I’m a bit of a fair-weather reader but at the very least I need enough hope and happiness to balance out my misery and I found Numbers did nothing but gut punch me over and over.
Overall, I’d have to say it was worth the read for the amazingly realistic characters Rachel Ward was managed to craft. Honestly, they should be a bench mark for YA literature. I guess you could argue that characters so real couldn’t face any other fate than something as equally realistic but still the plot really let Numbers down for me.
"Good read but let down by 'Americanisms'"
I hadn't realised this was a book aimed at teenagers when I downloaded it, but found it a surprisingly good read anyway. The one thing that let it down were all the American words used in the narrative of an English book, (sidewalk, potato chips, crackers, flash light, sneakers etc, etc). This particularly surprised me as it is set in London and the two characters are both Londoners. The more often these words were used the more it irritated me and therefore distracted from the story. Other than that, well written and well read.
If you are going to read the entire book in a working class London accent get a working class voice artist from London. I couldn't listen for long enough to find out whether the narrative voice in this book is actually as inauthentic as the reader made it feel, but my impression was of an unconvincing characterisation and I couldn't suspend disbelief.
"OK set up but not much story & odd Americanisation"
This story starts well and the narration is generally good - but, ultimately, this version is just bizarre.
When has a British kid - or, indeed, person - ever said "five-pound bill"? They might say "fiver" or, at worst, "five-pound note". There are teenagers talking about "chips" (crisps), "sneakers" (trainers), butt (ar*e or bum), flashlights (torches), sidewalks (pavements) - and so on.
Before long, the dialogue becomes so jarring that you're thrown out of the story by how weird it all is.
Then there's the issue that there's not really enough story for an actual novel. The stuff with Britney could be removed entirely with no adverse effect. In those chapters, we learn nothing about Jem, Spider, or her powers. Much of the "middle" is irrelevant, neither driving the narrative, nor having any happen that expands the central characters. It's just padding.
After a good set-up, this quickly fumbles its way into something quite dreary. I would not recommend.
"Brilliant Concept, well written"
This was a really good book. Brilliant story, well read, worth buying.
About a london teenager who sees peoples death dates when she looks in their eyes. For this reason she doesnt get close to anyone, but makes friends with a boy from school, and this is their adventures getting caught up in trouble with the police and making headline news.....
The only thing that I could say was a downfall was the author must be american as americanisms were used and the narrator was using a london accent which was a bit weird. she was brilliant to listen to. some of the other characters her accents slipped a little but i'd definitley recommend this one
A 15 year old with the ability to see that date people will die when she looks someone in the eyes. Poor girl. Because of this, she's a lonely narrator with a hardened London teen attitude and a lack of emotion toward others. How can you if you knew when they'd die?This book makes social statements in addition to it being a blockbusting adventure yarn - it is both comforting and disturbing with powerful messages - good and bad, hope and despair, love and hate - with issues reinforced as various characters are introduced throughout. `Numbers' provides a penetrating insight to what is generally condemned as delinquency - it identifies problems, it raises awareness, it assists understanding
Narrator done the very good job here. highly recommended
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