Since the day her mother died, Jem has known about the numbers.
Numbers that pp 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 grim 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 is running out. The countdown is on to a blowup!
I’m not sure how I feel about Numbers. On one hand, it was a great life story about Jem and Spider finding each other and discovering how to care for and love another person, but on the other hand, it wasn’t the action packed mystery the blurbs lead you to believe it is.
Jem’s mother died when she was six and she’s spent the last 9 years bouncing around the foster care system getting close to no one and basically being a delinquent. When she meets Spider, she tries to stay away but he won’t take no for an answer. Against her will, Jem finds herself being drawn into becoming Spider’s friend…even though she can see his date of death, and it’s soon. After circumstances leave them both suspended from school, they find themselves down at the London Eye. Everything is going fine until Jem looks numerous people in the eye and they all have the same death day – today. Getting Spider’s attention, they run, and keep running. Jem and Spider flee London, trying to make their way to a new life.
The action at the London Eye is great – Jem’s horror at finding out so many people are going to die at once, the explosion and Jem and Spider running from authorities (for numerous reasons). Rachel Ward’s writing is fantastic. You can feel Jem’s panic and desperation, her insecurities and confusion. The story of Jem and Spider becoming friends and falling in love is terrific and incredibly well done. But the action and suspense that we’re led to believe is coming, takes place within a couple pages and then the rest of the book is Jem’s and Spider’s flight from London and the authorities. Really, I felt the major point of the book was Jem’s desire to try and change Spider’s death date, and the idea that the day we die is pre-determined and nothing can change that.
There was also a slight inconsistency, but I may have missed something so if you’ve read the book feel free to point things out. It’s decided, over the course of the novel, that Jem can see the numbers because she has seen her mother die – that’s how it happens (and there are other instances to prove this near the end). But Jem was seeing the numbers before her mother died. It confused me greatly. Is Jem the exception to this phenomenon? Besides the slight discrepancy and general lack of mystery/action/etc. I have to say that Numbers was incredibly well written and an interesting concept; it just wasn’t what I was expecting.