May 19, 2012

Review: Numbers

By: Rachel Ward
Published: February 2010 by ChickenHouse
Format: Hardback, 325 pages
First Reviewed: May 2011
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
Add it on Goodreads

Since the day her mother died, Jem has known about the numbers.

Numbers that pop into her head when she looks into someone’s eyes. They’re dates, the numbers. Dates predicting with brute accuracy each person’s death.
Burdened by such grim knowledge, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. Maybe they can find happiness together, if only in the brief time that remains before his expiration date.
But on a trip to London, Jem foresees a chilling chain of events:
The city’s a target.
The clock’s running out.
The countdown is on to a blowup!

Rating: 3/5

I've been wanting to get to this for a while. The premise is very intriguing for me and it's different from other YA today, which...thank the universe. For the majority of this, I was really enjoying it, almost really loving it, but there were just a few elements that didn't sit well with me.

England! Heck yes! So, um, well, yes. I was biased with the setting. Anything that's not America or typical, it makes me excited. I loved that Ward took us through different parts of England instead of just staying in the city, and I also appreciate the editor/publisher of this because a lot of the time books set in non-America, they make sure the author treats us like we're dumb. Instead, the setting was describe just as someone living there would describe it, and I liked that.

I really liked the characters with this. Jem's personality was a bit confusing for me at times, but then I realize how she's more real. I felt the pain beneath her. She was tough on the outside, but then still showed great emotion when appropriate. She was a strong lead, in my opinion. Her supporting cast was also pretty good. I liked Spider. Don't think I really loved him, but I did really like him. As for the minor characters, they were there just to move the story along, which was a good move, I think, on Ward's part. This became more Spider and Jem's story and I don't think it would have been as good with too many major-minor characters. There were a few issues I had here and there with some of the characters--I'd want more from them, or their actions would seem a bit unrealistic (especially one made by the leads, which is the main reason for a star knocked off)--but overall, I really liked them.

I always find it interesting to read books written by someone who's not American. I love to hear their voice and get their tone. There's also a few punctuation differences that make the style interesting. Ward's writing was very, very strong. Besides the fact that she used "'round" way too much, I didn't find much wrong with the writing. There were times I felt some bumps and some areas that could have been tightened up, but I think Ward is just inches away from my five-star lovin'.

I'm so conflicted at the moment. Originally, this would have been a solid four stars, with a bit of room to grow, but there was a few elements that I just can't get past. The following will be just a few spoilers. It won't take away from the main story, I promise, but this is what bothered me.

Jem is fifteen. Spider is fifteen. They were having a great friendship turned romance until the middle. Instead of just giving them their first kiss, Ward makes them have sex. Twice. In a place they shouldn't. It was just too much and ruined it for me. But then we get to the end and see why she made them go past the kiss. We end the story five years later and find out Jem has a kid from that day. I do not, in any way, support teen sex/pregnancy, but I can be okay with it in a story if there's a purpose behind it. However, I felt this was done in a way that condoned it. There was never any thought about having a kid that young or anything. I look at the sequel and see why Jem needed to have a kid, but she didn't need to have it in this book, or Ward could have very easily set that up without making fifteen-year-olds have sex like freaking nothing's wrong with it. It just wasn't realistic.

I tried to explain that in a way that doesn't spoil too much, but once you read the book, maybe you'll better understand what I mean. I just couldn't look past it. It made me uncomfortable and it took away from the real and beautiful story that was forming, and that even formed afterward. Other than that, I felt this was a really good read. There were some parts that I wished were expanded, though, but the majority of this was a very enjoying, refreshing read.

Disappointment about how the romance was handled aside, this was a great read. I enjoyed it and could have read it in one setting if it were possible. Be warned, though, that there is quite a bit of language (f-bombs, and such, though they felt more real to me, so I was okay). I do want to check out the sequel, even though how we got to that one disturbed me. haha! :)

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