Numbers- Rachel Ward

“My view of him was blocked by the edge of my hood, but as he loomed up to me and I moved my head instinctively away from him, our eyes met for a moment and it was there. His number. 15122009. That was the other reason why he made me feel uncomfortable. Poor sod – he doesn’t stand a chance, does he, with a number like that?
Everyone’s got one, but I reckon im the only one that see them. Well, I don’t exactly ‘see’ them, like something hanging in the air; they kind of appear in my head. I feel them, somewhere behind my eyes. But they’re real. I don’t care if you don’t believe me – please yourself. I know they’re real. And I know what they mean. The penny dropped the day my mum went.”
Jem is 15, in care and hating her life at home and school she tries to keep away tries to keep to places no-one hangs out. But of course she has other reasons for not wanting to be with people. She has her own special reason why she doesn’t want to get close to anyone. And that reason is that she doesn’t want to spend her time counting, she doesn’t want to star into the eyes of someone she cares about only to have the date of their death stare back at her.

It works quite well for Jem, bunking off school, staying away from people, until Spider starts hanging around. Her first proper mate, she doesn’t want to be friends but it just happens. She can’t do anything about it, before she knows what’s happening they are more than just mates. After an outing in London centre forces them into hiding they are all each other has. And Jem just can’t get those numbers out of her mind.

Numbers was powerful, really powerful. I thought I was ready for something, it was expected, but then it came at you and karate chopped you in the stomach! I was seriously impressed with this book! The story, the atmosphere, the characters; it was mind-blowing.
I think Rachel Ward really hit home with this book. It was real; you could tell that the characters were just like people you would find on the council estates of London. And what Jem and Spider were running from was so real. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Numbers adapted for the BBC! It was that powerful!
I really enjoyed the story; I think the idea of Jem not wanting to let people know about the numbers she sees and the way that she handled people were really well written. I can’t what it would be like knowing that people around you were gunna die; some of them a lot sooner than you think! It must be a crazy thing to handle on your own, without people knowing. But then what do you do when people find out? Do you tell them? Do you lie? What if it’s soon? What if they are ill? I don’t think I could be as strong as Jem is and I loved her for that, for her strength and just the way she was so real!
Numbers really got me thinking too. There’s a lot of philosophy behind the story. If Jem can see peoples numbers does that mean they are set in stone? From the moment we born is our timeline set out? I really enjoyed that it made me think a lot about things like that. I think I believe in Karma, everything happens for a reason, but then I also kinda think that maybe life is just; we’re born, we live for a bit, then we die; simple.
I have to say that one thing I really thought Rachel Ward captured well was the reaction to the countryside. I’ve been to London, and I grew up in the countryside, I know that they are a world apart and I loved that Jem thought there was too much sky; it really put the difference across there!
I would recommend this book to anyone really, I think it captures the reality of life really well even though there’s an element of, I dunno… sci-fi? Fantasy? I’m not sure what to really call the whole seeing when someone’s gunna die bit of it! But it features other aspects of life, such as first time love and sex and a serious sense of not-belonging. I can’t wait to see what happens in the rest of the series.
Numberswas released by Chicken House in 2009 with Numbers 2 : The Chaosfollowing in June last year. Numbers 3: Infinity is due to be released in June of this year. Numbers is also due to be released as a movie please keep an eye on Rachel Wards website for further news. 


  • Tina

    Hey Raimy-rawr! If you loved the first one you are in for SUCH a treat – as book 2 in the series steps up a whole other gear.

    Rachel is writing book three as we speak, and I for one cannot wait to read it! Just because I work here at Chicken House doesn’t mean I can’t be an ultra-excited uber-fan of Numbers!

  • Clover

    I have this book on my to be read shelf, I’ve had it for awhile but haen’t found the right time to read it. I was considering reviewing it for a death and bereavement event I’m taking part in this summer, do you think that would work?

  • Raimy-rawr

    @Tina: I plan on getting the next ones! 😀 the first really did grab me, I couldnt put it down!

    @Clover I do think that would work yes, death is the whole reason why Jem acts the way she does, it takes over her life really: she doesnt want to get close to anyone because of their numbers! 😀

  • Becky

    I agree the book really does evoke the setting of London and the contrast to the countryside. I thought it was very gritty and powerful but for some reason I haven’t felt like reading the sequel. I’m sure the time will come.

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