Numbers by Rachel Ward

11 Dec


Ward, Rachel. Numbers. The Chicken House, 2009. 352 pages. ISBN 978-0-54514300-4

Plot Summary:

Ever since she can remember, Jem has been able to see the numbers. She didn’t realize what the numbers meant until her mother died. When she looks somebody in the eye, Jem can see the date that they are going to die. That’s what the numbers meant and it took her mother’s death to find out. Because of this Jem has made herself an outsider so that she doesn’t get attached to anybody, knowing when they are going to die is tough to handle. Until Spider enters her life. She tries to avoid him, but he is ever persistent. His death date is only a few months away, but Jem can’t say no to him, she really wants the friendship that she never had. So, they become friends. One day the go to London and visit the London Eye Ferris Wheel. Lem keeps seeing the same numbers on everybody and realizes something is going to happen to the Ferris Wheel, so she grabs Spider and they run, right before it explodes. But people saw them run and think Jem and Spider had something to do with the wheel exploding are now on the run from the police who would never believe the truth.

Critical Evaluation:

This is a wonderful thrilling novel that will lead you into hope and then shock you right back to reality. Jem can see dates when she looks people in the eye. These dates are their death dates, so Jem has chosen the life of an outsider so that she is not burdened with seeing when her friend’s deaths will occur. Then enters Spider, another outsider that is freakishly tall, black, skinny, and rather geeky, Jem takes a leap of faith with him and becomes his friend even knowing that he will die not too long in the future. She hopes she can fight the odds and change the future for Spider, but the future cannot be changed. If somebody has a death date, they will die on that date, it has always been so. Ward’s straightforward dialogue matches well with Jem’s prickly personality she hides behind. This story forces the reader to look beyond appearances to who the person is on the inside.

Reader’s Annotation:

How would you feel if you could tell when everybody was going to die, to the exact day? Jem has lived with this truth her entire life.


She is a fortysomething author, currently writing novels for teenagers and young adults (some adults like them too). She lives in Bath, UK, with her husband and two teenage children. She likes reading, dogs, cats, being at home with her family, vegetarian food, and writing. She doesn’t like too much noise, being late, patronised, or bullied.

Her first novel, ‘Numbers,’ was published in January 2009, and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and longlisted for the Carnegie Medal. The second Numbers novel Chaos is not yet out for American readers, but will be coming out next year. And you can expect a third novel for this series as well.


Science Fiction/Adventure

Curriculum Ties:


Booktalking Ideas:

Jem can see the death date of anyone she meets.

Reading Level/Interest Level:


Challenge Issues:


Why I included this book:

I remember it being mentioned during an elluminate session and thought I would check it out. It is an interesting premise for a story, one that I have never seen before. Young adults are sure to like it.

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Posted by on December 11, 2011 in LIBR 265-10 Database Project/Blog


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