- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Chicken House; 1 edition (7 Jun. 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1906427305
- ISBN-13: 978-1906427306
- Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 156 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 195,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Numbers 2 : The Chaos Paperback – 7 Jun 2010
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About the Author
RACHEL WARD first won a writers' award at a regional arts festival, and her prize-winning short story turned into the opening chapter of NUMBERS, her breakout debut novel. Its sequel, THE CHAOS, was published in Spring 2011; the trilogy concludes with INFINITY. Rachel lives in Bath, England, with her husband and their two children. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
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Rather than the high concept science fiction novel that Numbers appears to be on first contact, it is actually more of an examination of society. It was written in 2009, two years after the bombs hit London. It shows an uneasy attitude towards certain parts of society; it highlights particular prejudices that have been around since the idea of 'haves' and 'have nots' was introduced.
Jem, the main character, is fiercely independent and knows her 'place' in the world. She is outside looking in at all those who have proper jobs, relationships and money. When she meets Spider, it is an encounter between two kindred spirits. Spider is a tall black guy, already dabbling in drugs and "deliveries" for a local gang boss. He is looked down on by some, and is intimidating to others. For me, Ward did superbly presenting these two misfit characters, and the reasons behind why people in real life might end up in poverty, excluded from school, on the outskirts of society etc. In this time of riots, it was immensely powerful.
The other part of the novel that I really enjoyed is the burgeoning love affair between Jem and Spider - it is inexpressibly tender and, above all, very real. I completely invested in these two characters.
Unfortunately, Numbers is prevented from being a top quality read by two factors. The first is that Ward seems not to know how to deal with the high concept of seeing people's death date number - at times it is used as a clumsy plot device, rather than as something that can introduce deep discussions about free will versus destiny. I would have liked to see much more of the numbers idea, including how and why this gift/curse might have been given to Jem. Some airy-fairy waved-away idea that she can just see auras is not a strong backdrop to the concept.
The second problem, for me, is that the ending of the book was a) very hurried and b) signposted from practically the start of Numbers. It was just a question of how Ward was going to get to the destination. I'm usually a gullible fool when it comes to what might happen in a novel, so, for me to grasp the ending so soon, meant that it was flagged in a very heavy-handed manner.
There was a lot to enjoy in this debut novel by Rachel Ward, albeit countered by some fundamental weaknesses. Nothing that wouldn't prevent me from picking up the second novel in the Numbers trilogy, however! I do wonder, though, how much of this review is flavoured by the fact that I could associate Numbers very much with current affairs - or is it just that bad attitudes and prejudices will always exist towards those at the bottom of society and, in fact, Ward has written about a timeless issue? Regardless, Numbers is worth your time - it is dark and poignant by turn, and kept me interested throughout.
The concept of this story sounded like it had just enough weirdness to keep me interested...a 15 year old girl has the ability to see a person's date of death just by looking them in the eyes. Creepy. She has spent most of her life avoiding people as best she can, so she doesn't have to deal with the knowledge that she possesses. However, she is drawn to another loner and a bittersweet friendship evolves, and that's where the story really starts.
It's set in inner city London and although a lot of it is very dark in places and populated by some unsavoury characters, there's a sweetness about it too in parts.
Two streetwise young teens with disadvantaged backgrounds, thrown into difficult circumstances and yet they seem to both have an innocence about them that's quite touching. It's difficult to explain. They seem to be very young and yet very mature at the same time.
As the book progresses it throws up a lot of questions for lead character (Jem), which leads the reader to ponder those same questions. One of the questions I'm still left with is along the lines of 'which came first? The chicken or the egg?' Just by the fact that Jem saw the dates, did that mean they were destined to happen? Can she change things? If she didn't see them, would they still come to pass? If she saw the date and knew it was coming, did she then lay in place the chain of events that would cause the action?
She has the same thoughts and it's mindbending for the reader to get to grips with that puzzle so for Jem it must be torture.
I think that's the whole point to the story - it's torture for her and she's making do the best way she knows how, with what she's got.
The ending gave me chills and I'm glad to note that there is a follow on book which picks up where this one left off. I can't wait to read it as it sounds every bit as good as Numbers, if not better.
Jem is a fifteen year old girl in foster care, with a unique trait - she can see the date of death of everyone she meets. She has no friends until she meets Spider, a young "hoodie" of a similar age to herself. She is drawn to him despite realising he will die in only three weeks. The two of them spend a day in central London, but Jem realises something is wrong when she notices too many people with the same date of death - today. Realising something is about to happen, the two of them run, and moments later, a terrorist bomb explodes. Knowing they will be unable to explain their actions, the two friends flee London, with the police after them.
Jem and Spider face many issues in common with modern teenagers, and the books explores some of them sympathetically. If it has a flaw, it is that the book lacks a bit of emotional depth because the plot is somewhat unbelievable. But it's still an exciting read that would probably appeal to teenagers aged around 14-16.
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I had expected a story focused solely upon the powers our main character has, yet it turned out to be much deeper than...Read more