Numbers by Rachel Ward
Published February 1st 2010 by Chicken House/Scholastic Inc.
Numbers started out pretty good. Jem has an unusual "gift." She is able to see a person's death date. The number hovers over a person head when she looks in someone's eyes. Jem has always had the gift. As a little girl her mother would scold her for shouting out numbers. Her mother never understood Jem's gift or took it seriousness. Jem's mother dies of a drug overdose when she was a little girl. Jem knew her mother's death date for years, but the death was the first time Jem had known that her gift was real, permanent.
We meet Jem as a 15-year-old girl. She has been bounced from foster home to foster home never forming lasting relationships with any of her caregivers. Jem keeps her distance and stays quiet. She has no friends, and cares for no one. Jem begins to hang out with an unruly boy named Spider. They do not like each other much, but over time, Jem begins to feel that Spider is her one and only friend even though she sees Spider's number; his expiration date. His death is only a few months ahead. Jem tries to keep her distance, never wanting to form a deep friendship. Why would she when Spider will be gone in a few months?
One day, Jem and Spider go to the London Eye (giant ferris wheel). They have both been suspended from school, and they want to pass the time. Soon Jem notices that several of the other visitors have the same number. She quickly understands that there will be an attack and several people will die. She convinces Spider to flee the site. Soon, they are on the run from the law. Police want to know why Jem and Spider left the scene of a terrorist attack.
The teenagers spend a few days on the run and soon fall in love. We see it coming, but that's expected. They steal cars, eat cookies, and sleep outdoors. And when I say sleep, I don't mean sleep. ;) The two make a plan to live in a nearby town, but Spider is captured by the police before they arrive. Jem has two days to find Spider before his number is up.
Without spoiling the end, I will say this; at about the 3/4 point, I was ready for this book to be over. I was tired of hearing Jem drone on and on about her loneliness, her screwed up life, and all the mistakes her and Spider have made. I was over hearing her voice. I was ready for them to get caught, go to jail or jump off the edge of a cliff. Well, be careful what you wish for. The ending was a little shocking. NO, they don't jump off of a cliff, but whoa! They sure don't ride off into the sunset either. During the prologue, we are told what happens to a few key players and learn there is a new book with uh, some younger characters. ;)
2 out of 5 stars