Monday, May 28, 2012

Review: Num8ers by Rachel Ward (#1)

Num8ers by Rachel Ward (#1)
Pages: 325
Release Date:  November 8th, 2008
Date Read:  2012, January 24th - February 10th
Received:  Audiobook from Library
Rating:  4/5 stars
Recommended to:  17+

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.

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.

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.

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.

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+


  1. Ohhh!!! I remember seeing this book at the bookstore last year and just barely passing on buying it... but now I wish I'd read it! The idea of this books is just so creepy and cool at the same time -- I mean, being able to see everyone's death date must be so terrifying! I couldn't imagine it because I'd be so tempted to just run up to everyone who was bound to die soon and tell them to live like they were dying or stay indoors or something  like that x) And the way you describe what happens when Spider meets Jem... BRILLIANT.

    Amazing review, Sierra! <3 :) It may not be the book for everyone, but you've convinced me that it's the book for me!

  2. Gina/Scot CallawayMay 28, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    This is one I've had on my book shelf since last year.  I won it in a contest and would love to read it.  After reading your review I have a renewed interest in it.  Great spoiler free review.

  3. I was interested in this one a long time ago and yet never read it, so I'm so happy to hear it's a good one. I do like a good gritty story, so none of that would bother me.  It's great that Jem develops wells throughout the book though, as I know sometimes the MC doesnt and that can be annoying. great review. Glad you loved it.

    Lauren from

  4. You should definitely read it Mimi!  I hope you love it like I do!  I'm definitely really really excited to read the next two books, which follow Jem's son's neat! :D

  5. Yay!  Glad it renewed your interest!  You should definitely pick it up...I'll be interested in reading your review!

  6. That's good - if you enjoy a gritty story you should definitely read it!  I mean, it's just so good...

    Thanks for the comment Lauren! :D

  7. I'm so happy to hear that you liked this book so much and that you really connected with Jem, Sierra! I remember that I thought the synopsis of this book sounded amazing when it first came out. Unfortunately, it was DNF for me, as I didn't like anything about it. But alas, it just wasn't the book for me. On the other hand, you liked it so much! :D I'm so glad! I hope you love the rest of the series just as much, Sierra! <3

  8. What a bummer that it wasn't for you!  But I totally's one of those books.  Thanks for your comment, Sophia!

  9. Does it sound slightly twisted to say I love having my heart broken? In fiction anyway, not so much real life. It's the books that rip my heart out and stomp on it that always stay with me the longest, so clearly I need to give this one a try! Thanks for the recommendation Sierra:)

  10. Hahaha nono, it's perfectly normal in the realm of fiction!  I totally agree.  The books that stick with me the most are the ones that melt me into a puddle of tears.  They're so good...and I ask, why why why do I read these books?  Because they're addicting!  Haha!  So glad you are going to give this one a try! :D

  11. I've never heard of this book before but it sounds quite good. :) Thanks for introducing me to a new book.