Saturday, July 23, 2011

Book Review: Numbers by Rachel Ward

Title: Numbers
Author: Rachel Ward
Genre: YA, Romance, Thriller

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic Inc.
Publishing Date: February 1st 2010
Hardcover: 325 pages

Stand Alone or series: First book of the Numbers trilogy

Summary:
Whenever Jem meets someone new, no matter who, as soon as she looks into their eyes, a number pops into her head. That number is a date: the date they will die.

Burdened with such an awful awareness, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. But while they’re waiting to ride the Eye Ferris wheel, Jem notices that all the other tourists in line flash the same number. Today’s number. Today’s date. Terrorists are going to attack London. Jem’s world is about to explode!
Review:

I don't think I've ever been more disappointed in a book and I can't even do a proper summary of the story because all I want to write is "blah blah blah, whine, blah blah blah." The last time I felt like straight up tearing the pages out of a book was when I read Angels and Demons, but I think this book even makes my frustration at Dan Brown look like a minor quibble. While the summary made this book sound like it's going be about the question of fate and whether or not we control our own destiny (because why else would it matter that you can see when people are going to die?), it's really about the ineptitude of the British police system. Yes, really.

Let's start with the major issues I had with this book:

1. The writing. Right away I regretted picking this book out of my stack. I get that Jem has had a hard life and that her language is supposed to personify her tough-girl attitude, but it really just turned me off. What was supposed to make the book feel more authentic made me think Ward was just lazy. Jem's whole "fuck off" attitude made me not like her so it was kind of hard to root for her. In fact, the biggest disappointment of this story was that it's told from Jem's perspective and therefor I had little hope she would be hit by a bus and the story could move on without her.

2. The way every adult figure besides one was a caricature used to highlight how little adults understand about teenagers and poverty. I thought I was reading a crappy version of Dangerous Minds for a minute there. We get it, no one can understand what Jem has been through.

3. That Jem and Spider have to go one the run because the police will try to pin a terrorist explosion on them because they're poor and Spider is black. That's right. This is the police ineptitude I was talking about. Apparently, the police make a habit of prosecuting innocent teenagers as terrorists and it's perfectly normal for everyone to know this. Because of this, instead of being questioned by the police and released after no evidence can link them to the crime, Jem and Spider have to go on the run. And when they do so, they become the most wanted people in Britain. Who needs to worry about al-Qaeda when there's suspicious activity from teenagers? But don't worry, an average thug will be able to find them but the police are pretty clueless. And then when they do finally catch up with them, the police will be willing to honor the "sanctuary" of a church by not using the powers invested in them by a warrant and allow Jem to stay safely tucked away. On top of that steaming pile of unbelievable horse shit, the police will also be quick to give into Jem's demands and give her what she wants. Rather than, you know arresting her. Then all will apparently be forgotten and this entire idiotic plot line will just fade into the background. Seriously, anyone watching an episode of Law and Order could do better than this. How anyone, for even a single moment, could buy into this idea is beyond me. If my brain could cry it'd be weeping uncontrollably just thinking about this crap.

4. The fact Jem can see when people are going to die is basically background noise. It really contributes nothing to the story besides giving Ward a reason to make Jem an asshole. Jem is so stupid she also decides to put the person she's trying to save in a dangerous situation because she's so self-centered that everything must be about her and therefore she's the reason people die. Are you thinking wtf? So was I. Don't let yourself think that Jem ever saves anyone or ever does anything with her power (or whatever you want to call it). She doesn't. But we sure do get to hear her bitch and moan about it for three hundred pages.

I could go on, but I think I've made my position on this book pretty clear. The only thing I liked about this book is the fact it features an interracial relationship. Everything else just sucked.

Verdict:

Sometimes I feel bad when I talk about an aspect of a book I didn't like or major issues I have with stories. (A surprising amount of authors must google themselves a lot cause they seem to pretty in-the-know about a lot of reviews.) I disliked this book so much, I can't bring myself to care though. Ward owes me the few hours of my life I spent reading this book.

Rating: 2. One of the worst books I have ever read

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