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
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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