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Numbers: Book 1 [Kindle Edition]

Rachel Ward
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)

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Action, suspense, and romance whirlpool dangerously in this cinematic saga. Learn more | See more teen sci-fi and fantasy

Book Description

Starred by PW and SLJ! Now in paperback, Rachel Ward's gripping debut psycho-thriller that pairs futuristic sci-fi with a tender, touchingly real love story. Includes a teaser to the sequel!

Ever 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 horrible 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!

Books In This Series (3 Books)
Complete Series

  • Editorial Reviews

    From School Library Journal

    Grade 9 Up—Numbers have a different meaning for 15-year-old Jem: the numbers that pop into her head when she makes eye contact with anyone reveal the day that person will die. Orphaned after her mother's overdose, Jem has been in foster care for years and avoids forming relationships until she meets Spider, another outsider who, despite Jem's efforts, pushes past her self-imposed barriers. A trip to the London Eye ends in disaster when Jem realizes that the tourists waiting in line have the same number and that they are all going to die that very day. Wanted for questioning after fleeing the scene of an apparent terrorist attack, Jem and Spider go on the run—a prospect made all the more daunting for Jem because she knows that Spider's number is up in just a few days. Sarah Coomes brings Rachel Ward's gritty story (Chicken House, 2010) to life with emotion and intensity. She perfectly captures Jem, a teen who hides her pain and loneliness behind a tough girl attitude, and gives Spider his own distinct nuances as well. Jem's emotional growth in the latter half of the book is satisfying, and listeners will be awaiting the sequel even as they are reeling from the twists at the end of this novel.—Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    From Booklist

    Fifteen-year-old Jem Marsh has always had an unwelcome gift: when she looks into a person’s eyes, she sees the date of their death. A foster-home child since her drug-addicted mother’s overdose, Jem’s knowledge and experience isolate her from her peers. She surprises herself by building a relationship with another misfit, the tall, geeky Spider. Their interracial romance (Jem is white, Spider is black) leads to a day trip to London, which ends disastrously when Jem realizes that all the tourists at the London Eye Ferris wheel have the same death date: that day. Ward’s first novel is a fast-paced thriller with deep philosophical roots and tremendous empathy for those who don’t fit the mold, not to mention a jaw-dropping ending that stands alone beautifully while whetting readers’ appetites for the sequel. Clear, straightforward prose is the perfect voice for prickly Jem, and Ward’s complex, intriguing characterizations challenge the reader to look beyond appearances. The British setting and tone will intrigue, not deter, U.S. readers. A fascinating premise, creatively explored. Grades 8-12. --Debbie Carton

    Product Details

    • File Size: 464 KB
    • Print Length: 355 pages
    • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.; Reprint edition (May 1, 2011)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B004YVVS5C
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • X-Ray:
    • Word Wise: Not Enabled
    • Lending: Enabled
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,193 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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    Customer Reviews

    3.5 out of 5 stars
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    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars Promising, But Uneven December 12, 2009
    Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
    Rachel Ward's NUMBERS has a good premise: a teenage British girl who can see your "number" (that is, the date of your death) just by looking into your eyes. It's the kind of "blessing" that is, in fact, a "curse" and has all kinds of possibilities as a science fiction thriller. The trouble is, NUMBERS has an identity problem. It's a coming-of-age tale that wants badly to be a science fiction piece and ultimately winds up being a hybrid -- one that doesn't quite satisfy on either front.

    Not that there's a lack of things to like about the book. It maintains your interest as the protagonist, Jem, a rather street-smart type, hooks up with Spider, a black ne'er-do-well who gets in trouble with the law and goes on the lam with his sweetheart. In fact, the "road" portion of the book, where Jem and Spider are fleeing authorities after witnessing a terrorist attack (they ran because Jem saw the same numbers -- that day's -- in all the people's eyes), is the best stretch of all, as it allows Ward to show a deft hand at characterization and humor. But the numbers keep getting in the way, and when they do, you expect Ward to go somewhere with them. She never quite does that. Instead, the book holds to realism more than you might expect, and you grow increasingly intolerant of a numbers sub-plot that ultimately transforms into an irritant. It all lands in a heap at the end -- an eye-roll "surprise" line at the finish which doesn't quite satisfy and seems a bit pat.

    Still, I wager that the book might appeal to older teens (if it were a movie, it would assuredly earn its "R" rating) curious as to what happens with the death-date thing. I myself wondered how Ward would handle it.
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    15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
    2.0 out of 5 stars Formulaic Young Adult Book November 28, 2009
    Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
    The earlier reviewer who wrote: "The book started off strong, bogged down in the middle, and then whimpered toward an unsatisfying predictable ending" was spot on.

    The premise is that Jem, a 15 year old orphaned girl in London knows when people will die. When she looks someone in the eye, a date pops into her head; that date is the day the person will die. Knowing when others will die leads Jem to avoid personal relationships with everyone; she never lets anyone get too close.
    Jem, begrudgingly, befriends another social outcast like herself nick-named Spider. When the pair finds themselves suspended from school, they head for the tourist areas of London, and wind up making a bit of a scene in front of the London Eye. Jem then notices that a bunch of people in line for the Eye have the same number: today.

    It's a wonderful setup that quickly devolves into familiar themes and worn out cliches.

    The big lure of "Numbers" is centered around the London Eye, but this particular plot device runs its course rather rapidly (and yet, is never resolved). It's merely the launching point for the "grand adventure" in the book. I put grand adventure in quotes there to signify that it's really not all that grand. I completely understand the author's decision to use this event as a fulcrum, but the adventure that follows seems to glorify being homeless, not showering, and stealing. I could mention a few other items, but I don't want to completely give the story away.

    The upshot for me being that Jem and Spider make some SERIOUSLY bad choices and the author justifies these choices by saying it's because of where they come from. Blaming society... hasn't that been done already?
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    7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars 3 Stars for Num8ers March 12, 2010
    3 Stars - First off, I almost didn't finish reading Numbers. It kept me forever waiting for something to happen. I never felt that I connected with either of the characters until I'd say the last few pages. Then I finally felt like Jem was or could be a real person, who was more then the hard shell she put up around her.

    After I finished reading, I figured a few things out, that the parts of the book that dragged for me, needed to drag for the end result to have the affect on me that it did. To be able to really see just what the message of this book was, there needed to be all that came before it. At least for me to be able to understand things that is.

    The message is finally clear in the last few pages and I'm sure there are other readers out there who will have the same reaction I did. I don't want to tell anyone because it will give too much away.

    Jem is such a strong 15 year old girl that sometimes that strong nature gets in the way. She tries to stay away from everyone for her fear of the numbers that she knows are the dates people will die, she just doesn't understand why she can see them or what they really mean.

    Along the way she allows herself to connect with a fellow classmate Spider. After witnessing a horrible event, they run. Most of this story is of the two of these characters as they flee from London. Oh, and that's another thing I loved about this book. It's all set in England. Some who aren't familiar to British terms or slang might be a little confused, but don't let that bother you. With the internet it's easy to look things up to understand what the various things mean.

    Jem and Spider somehow fit together. They are both so different from each other and yet they work.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
    Kept my interest all the way through the book.
    Published 1 month ago by Cathy286
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Captivating read. Interesting story and characters.
    Published 2 months ago by Tz
    1.0 out of 5 stars Nice Idea, Bad Execution
    In "Numbers" by Rachel Ward, we meet Jem Marsh, who has a very special gift: She can see the date her opposite will die whenever she looks at them. Read more
    Published 3 months ago by The Bookavid
    5.0 out of 5 stars Number 5 (as in stars)
    Let me start by saying I'm from the US, so some of the terminology set me back a little. (Some I knew from Harry Potter, like 'tosser' haha)

    But once I started getting... Read more
    Published 3 months ago by AuthorShea
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    On time and as advertised
    Published 5 months ago by Tammy E. Johnson
    3.0 out of 5 stars A coming of age story
    Jem has a special ability, when she looks someone in the eyes, she can see their number; the number that tells what date they're going to die. Read more
    Published 7 months ago by Jamie W.
    1.0 out of 5 stars Very foul language. Should not be in Youth Fiction section
    Teen daughter borrowed this book from the library. She only read a short way before she had to put it down. Very foul language. Should not be in Youth Fiction section.
    Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Arrived excellent condition
    Published 10 months ago by Mary Jo Law
    4.0 out of 5 stars great book
    I really liked it. Just the ending was a bit disappointing. Why couldn't he live and lived a happy family together
    Published 11 months ago by Marji Hanson
    2.0 out of 5 stars Numbers Review
    Review copied directly from my blog: thepopcultist[dot]blogspot[dot]com
    Also note that my rating system has 2 stars as "It was okay"

    I really love the whole... Read more
    Published 11 months ago by Katie Conigliaro
    Search Customer Reviews

    More About the Author

    I'm a fortysomething author of books for young adults. I live in Bath, England, with my husband, two teenagers, dog, cat and chickens. I've had 'sensible' jobs for 25 years, and now I'm a writer too. I've been writing for about 10 years, and have published the Numbers trilogy. The first book came out in the UK in 2009 and the USA in 2010. My Numbers books explore the gift of being able to see death dates. If you looked in somebody's eyes and saw the date of their death, would it change the way you felt about people? Would it change the way you lived your life?

    Find out more about me at my website:

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