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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Numbers by Rachel Ward

Numbers (Numbers, #1)
by Rachel Ward

from Goodreads
Whenever Jem 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 an awful awareness, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. But while they’re waiting to ride the Eye Ferris 
wheel, Jem notices 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 think you have to take the book synopsis with a little grain of salt.  I went into this thinking it was going to be sort of post-apocalyptic, with this huge cataclysmic event that Jem knows is coming, and that it was going to be all about that.  Really, though, it's all about Jem.  The attack is fairly small, comparatively, and really is more a catalyst for the action, and not the action itself.  It's a story of self-discovery as much as anything.
And I didn't find this a bad thing.

The book is much more a study of human nature -- in all its harsh realities and surprising glories.  There are so many things working together to make Jem's story what it is: powerful and genre-defying and unflinching.  There are elements of a coming of age story, dashes of romance, gritty urban fantasy and thought-provoking sci-fi.  

I truly loved a lot of the choices Rachel Ward made in this book, because I never really felt like she was holding back.  She doesn't write down to her audience or pander.  Jem's voice is always authentic and utterly human, by turns filled with wonder and triumph, and hopelessness and despair.  Her voice and her journey -- fantastic as it may be -- is so human, in fact, that she is at times frustrating and yell-at-able in the way that truer characters can be.

I found myself so invested in Jem and her emotions, and I really felt it as she slowly opened up and grew as a person.  And lest that sound really sappy and boring, I also really loved how on the edge of my seat I was through this whole book.  There is a constant layer of tension and worry that pervades the story.  I truly worried for Jem and Spider, and I loved that Rachel Ward never took the easy way out, or lessened her story with quick fixes and deus ex machina moments (well, there is one that comes to mind, but I actually liked it.  It was very human for a deus moment...  It worked.)

And through all of this there's this kick-ass concept of the numbers Jem sees, and what they mean realistically and philosophically, and what Jem's responsibility is, if any.  It was all handled really, really well, in ways I wasn't always expecting, and I have to say, I ended up respecting Ward as an author and being far more impressed by this book and its unflinching human-ness than I ever thought to be.  All this from a debut.

And if that sounds at all like your thing, I'd suggest you read it.

Make sure you check back in the coming days for my review of the sequel, The Chaos, as well as a giveaway of 2 finished copies of The Chaos!


  1. I got a copy of this one from a contest awhile back, so I'll probably be giving it a shot eventually no matter what. I remember reading a lot of mixed reviews when it first came out...It seemed like people either loved it or hated it. But I think I can understand why that is by reading your review. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and maybe if I approach it with an open mind, I will too! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. I've been wanting to read this for a while now! I love the idea behind it! It's also nice to know that the whole book doesn't revolve around the apocalyptic stuff in advance. :)

    Yay for people who write good reviews!

  3. That was a great review! I have never seen a review of this book and was turned off by the book blurb. But you make it sound so much more interesting. Maybe you should have written the book blurb! Now, I'd like to read it, especially as I see the sequel is coming out. Thanks for such a great review!


  4. Another great review. Due to your review, I think I'll give this one a go! Thanks.

  5. I'll say that when I first read Numbers I didn't really know what to think. The idea is just terrifying!

  6. This book sounds great... I love your review of it. I can't wait to read it. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I read this right when it came out. I really enjoyed it and I agree with your review, but the ending was a little bit of a let down for me.

  8. I really like Numbers, there were a few things I was disappointed in but over all I thought it was great.

  9. Got to admit, I've been looking forward to this one for awhile now.


    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  10. I remember reading a lot of mixed review for Numbers. I have to say I truly enjoyed it. I liked how real Jem and Spider were. I'll admit though, I couldn't really get over the fact that Spider always smelled like B.O. It really made my interest in him lessen.

  11. The concept of these books sounds so completely up my ally. I mean like the kind of thing I would have written myself. I'm so very curious to see if I love them as much as I think I will. Thanks for reviewing the first book, most the reviews I've seen have been for the second! Great insights.

  12. I'm with Jessy. I really enjoyed the book, but the whole use of odors in the book made me want to gag some times. Who needs yummy candles when you've got BO and manure?!

  13. Some one give me this book as a present and now I more interest on reading it

  14. I have this book but still haven't read it. Ur review has more personal details and I really like that. I look forward to this one!


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