Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Review of Num8ers by Rachel Ward
Ward, Rachel. Num8ers. Chicken House/Scholastic, 2010.
This book practically booktalks itself. All you have to say is, "If Jem looks into someone's eyes, she can see the date they'll die. Sound cool? Maybe not so much. Imagine looking into a baby's eyes and seeing she'll only live to age 31. Or looking at a kid's eyes and seeing he'll die in three years. Or knowing that the only boy you've ever gotten really close to will die in just a few days. You don't know how. You don't know why. You only know when."
If that doesn't get a teen to whip out her library card and take this book home, I don't know what will. Try throwing in the fact that Jem is something of a lost cause (drug-addicted mom who died of an overdose, a series of foster families, behavioral problems) who no sooner lets her guard down with a super tall, lovable, fellow lost cause named Spider than they are both on the run, accused of blowing up the London Eye. Gritty urban teens sleeping rough in the countryside while chased by England's entire Anti-Terrorism unit - this is a very bad situation, but kind of romantic, too.
Until you remember that Spider only has days to live. Doomed love, indeed.
Funny, surprising, touching, and absolutely, intensely gripping. Jem's voice is authentic and immediate, and Spider is one of the best characters to be found in YA fiction. And the ending is a chiller. This is one of my favorite books of the year.
Highly recommended for ages 13 and up.