SUMMARY -Jemma never wanted this gift - this curse. She never realized the Numbers meant something until her mom died - on a date that spelled out the Numbers Jem saw in her mother's eyes. now she knows - she can never look someone in the eye without knowing when they'll die. For a long time, Jem has distanced herself from the world, but now, she's found a friend in the quirky boy from school, Spider. It isn't long, however, before Jem's gift predicts a terrorist attack. Now the suspects, she and Spider are on the run for their lives, and Jem is forced to live like she's never lived before.
MY THOUGHTS -Sitting here, writing out that summary, I almost burst into tears. Yep, this is one of those books. Books that make me bawl. I swear I was hyperventilating at the end of this book. It's like a sharp knight to the gut. Actually, I take that back. It's a shock back into reality.
Most books with this much content usually aren't what I pick up or finish. But. There are a few reasons I finished this one.
1. The narrator. By golly this woman can read a book and make it come to life like nothing else I've ever seen. I don't typically do audiobooks, but I was pulled into Jem's world through the narrator's brilliant voice.
2. Jem's transformation (more on that below).
3. The thick intensity and grit of the world Rachel Ward so perfectly built. Oh, it's earth, the world we live in, but it's like nothing you've ever read.
4. Her writing. Ward has a way with worlds. Simple, to the point, but also lyrical and passionate.
CHARACTER NOTES -So. Jem. She's hard, closed-off, never budging from her comfort zone (if she even has one) - no friends, no life - nothing that could make her see people's death dates, their Numbers. Normally, a girl like this would drive me crazy. There's no way I could relate to her. But, the magic of the narrator and author worked together, and as soon as I heard Jem's story, her mom's story, her life now, I could never have walked away. I cared, I understood, I was Jem. I suddenly was experiencing life through her eyes. I hurt, bled for her, with her. If you can do that with your readers in such a severe, devastating way, you're brilliant.
When Jem meets Spider, so begins the slow, painful process of Jem's transformation. I cannot even begin to tell you how perfect and seamless the change wrought in her character was. Like, freaking brilliant. I'd say it's some of the best character development I've seen, hands down, next to classic characters such as Sydney Carton, Andre-Louis Moreau and Raskilnikov.
Spider was also excellently portrayed. He irritates the crap out of Jem sometimes, but she cares for him more than she's wiling to admit. There's so much heart and soul to his character, because he is the life in Jem. He brings her out of her shell with his fidgeting, jumpiness, loud personality, and care for her.
Besides these two, there's a cast of characters worthy of reading about. None have so much page time as the leads, but they all play their part. None were ever dull or awkward or stupid. I loved every last one of them.
STORY NOTES -I was sitting in my car with my 14-year-old sister, listening away to this brilliant narration, at the very beginning of the story, when Jem dropped the first F-bomb in a rather sudden, s hocking moment. She said it again, a few times in that scene. Startled, I turned it off, planning to proceed with caution when there wasn't such a young audience.
Proceed with caution. Yes. There were a LOT of F-bombs in this book. Probably 60 or so. Typically, this annoys me to pieces. BUT. I could understand where Jem was coming from, due to stellar writing skills on Ward's part. This doesn't make it okay, but if I was in Jem's shoes, and had lived the life she had, I'd probably cuss up a storm as well.
In any case, this book holds something very precious. It's a story about the delicacy and beauty of life. It's an adventure that takes you across London, the countryside, and the sea side. It's a thriller that keeps you on your toes till THE VERY END. It's a romance that will steal your heart away. It is not typical. The romance, the journey, the climax - I've never read anything like it. And because of that alone, it is beautiful.
SUMMING IT UP -Heart-breaking. Your heart will be broken once you've finished. Trust me. Shattered. But in all the right ways. Rachel Ward - please, never stop writing.
(Although, I do have to say - this isn't a book for everyone. Not all people can handle or like to handle books with this much content/grit/hardcore story. So look both ways before you cross this street. But I hope you do cross this street. I hope you do.)
For the Parents -
Explicit language throughout. Drug use, theft, sex in a barn (some detail but more about the emotion)...death. It's a heavy book with hardcore themes. Recommended 17+