Numbers by Rachel Ward
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Numbers is a story about a fifteen-year-old girl, Jem, who can see the dates that everyone will die. She has had a hard life, growing up in a bad neighborhood and losing her mother to a drug overdose at a young age. Combined with knowing the date of everyone's death, she has a hardened personality and won't let anyone in.
This changes when she meets Spider, a rebellious black boy her own age. The two start to "hang out" and sort of become friends. Unfortunately, Jem knows that he only has a few weeks to live. One day, when they are at London Eye, Jem realizes that everyone there has the same date and the the two quickly escape a bomb. Because they are seen running away, they are now wanted for suspected terrorism. Combined with some past offenses with the law and a drug lord, the two are forced to go on the run.
...And that's about where I stopped. I knew this was Ward's debut novel, and I tend to give those an extra chance, but I just couldn't waste my time on this any longer.
I couldn't connect to the characters at all. Jem's supposed to be a rebellious kid with a troubled past. However, the author clearly knew nothing about kids with "troubled" lives. Her past was entirely contrived and actually made me laugh at times. If her personality was actually a valid result of her past, fine, I could have accepted it and sympathized with her, but there was no consistency to her personality. Sometimes she'd be cold, detached, and confident, and others she'd be weak, vulnerable, and just plain whiny.
Spider was just what the author thought was "cool." I had a feeling that she had a whole detailed image of him built up in her head, but it certainly didn't come across on the page. He was rebellious, self-confident, and there for Jem whenever Ward thought it was convenient for her to swoon over him.
The plot managed to be too fast and have nothing interesting happening. There was no introduction--it just jumped right in. Jem and Spider were on the run before I even felt like their characters were established. I didn't even understand why they did. Spider stole money from a drug lord, but he only did because they were gong on the run. And, sure, they were at London Eye when it was bombed, but there was nothing they could be charged with. Logic just falls away to plot convenience.
I put down the book after a few days of Jem and Spider travelling. A totally unexpected plot twist happens: they kiss! At this point, the plot of Jem seeing death dates has completely fallen into the background and the action is ridiculous and unfounded. All that remains is the romance. But when they kissed, I felt absolutely nothing for them. There really wasn't much build up in their relationship, and, with Jem inconsistent character, I can't even really say they were a good match for each other. I'm the type of the person who becomes completely absorbed in stories, so if I can be this detached, then it's just not worth the effort.
I won't say that no one should ever read this, but you definitely need to have a lot of patience for a first-time author. Don't expect wonderful things from it.
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