Monday, April 4, 2011

Num8ers by Rachel Ward

Published February 1, 2010.

Since the day her mother died, Jem has known about the numbers.

Numbers that pop into her head when she looks into someone's eyes. They're dates, the numbers. Dates predicting with brute accuracy each person's death.

Burdened by such grim knowledge, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. Maybe they can find happiness together, if only in the brief time that remains before his expiration date.

But on a trip to London, Jem foresees a chilling chain of events:

The city's a target.
The clock's running out.
The countdown is on to a blowup! (book flap blurb)

DNF. I just couldn't get through it. The main reason was I was just so disgusted with Spider's lack of personal hygiene. It's not that he doesn't have the ability to shower; he just doesn't. So every time Jem mentioned his stank, I gagged a little. Great character but I couldn't get past that. How could you not smell your own muck? How can you be content to just wallow in your own filth? I didn't get it and after a while I didn't want to. It was made such a prominent point in the story that it seemed that that's what Spider was: dirty, more than anything else. It was mentioned more than anything else. Blech. Pass.

The other thing that made me put the book down was the numbers thing itself. Jem sees numbers in people's eyes. They're the days that they're all going to die. But . . . what? That numbers thing didn't seem to have a greater purpose. It just seemed like something to make the plot go forward. I felt you could have switched it out with something else entirely, or just plain bad timing, and it wouldn't have made a difference. There is an inkling of something with Spider's grandmother but she gets left behind, literally, so it continues to seem aimless.

That's pretty much it. Spider's need to shower and the seeming irrelevance of the numbers themselves made me stop. The writing was good. I mean, look at how it made me feel. But I didn't see the point to the numbers, which were the motivating factors of the story itself. I'm sure it goes somewhere but I'm just not patient enough to finish taking the trip.

I do think the writing is really strong and I definitely felt everything I read. I wouldn't pass this one up entirely. It just wasn't for me. I thought it was going to be more involved than what it was. Maybe I'm missing something at the end but I won't lose sleep over it.
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