Numbers by Rachel Ward
Reading a summary of a book which has a main character that can see a person’s date of death in her mind by merely looking at their eyes was definitely the reason why Rachel Ward’s Numbers caught my attention. The anime/manga Deathnote and the movie, Final Destination, immediately popped into my head while reading the gist at the back of the book. Yes, curiosity got the best of me and I decided to get a copy and read it.
The story starts with Jem, a shy quiet girl who tends to spend her time alone and away from people. She might as well be considered as one of the weird kids at their school, not talking much and always keeping a low profile. But how can anyone blame her for being that way when she is carrying around a dark secret she has known all her life? How do you interact with the people around you when one look in their eyes would mean you suddenly knowing the day when their lives would end? And that is how Jem’s life has been for as long as she can remember. This burden is became the main reason why she avoids any kind of relationship with people. In her mind, it would be impossible to be close to anyone when every time she looks at them, the numbers appear, a constant reminder that they will eventually be gone.
That is her way of life until she met Spider in one of her usual chill spots. What started out as mere mutual understanding between two weird introverts blossomed further into a unique friendship. Maybe even more than that. Suddenly, Jem took chances and risks she never thought she can handle. She was drawn into a new kind of experience with Spider beside her. But then during a date in London, Jem foresees a tragic accident, which changed everything. All of a sudden they were blasted into a catastrophic chain of events that would turn their worlds around.
I have to say, I really have mixed feelings with this book. I very much enjoyed the first few chapters as I can strongly relate with Jem’s personality. Like every other teenage loner, we both contemplate with things that aren’t exactly spoken out loud like death. To her, death is a constant thought but not in a suicidal way, it’s just a basic fact of life. We all live and we all die at some point. It is the undeniable truth. And given her unusual sight, I think death would really be part of her every day life.
Halfway through the book, I felt bored and the storyline seemed a bit of a drag and was dull. I wouldn’t reveal any spoilers but let’s just say that I feel that the events did not seem to connect with the premise of book. To me, it became more like a teenage romance, a bit like watching Skins, instead of a mystery/fantasy genre the book promised based on its gist. The book did not quite satisfy the level of adventure and thrill I was expecting. At some point, actually most of the time, the events were very predictable. That, plus I did not feel the excitement I usually get when reading these kinds of books, honestly lessened its appeal to me.
But then as I neared the end, I was a bit caught off guard as I turned to the very last page. I was a somehow disappointed about one anti-climactic event but what happened after was certainly a cliffhanger and somehow lifted my interest a little. I think I would still want to read the sequel, but not any time soon. Oh, and maybe one redeeming quality of the book was that it is very much quotable. It also makes you think about things as it poses a lot of questions about life. I mean, if someone can tell you the day you will die, would you want to know? If you do, what would you do when you realize that you only have a short time left to live? All in all, this book is a 3.5/5 for me.