Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Numbers by Rachel Ward

To see in the New Year, Mr M and I went on a Trail of Jack the Ripper walk around the Whitechapel area (of which more later).  This was scary enough, being dark and a little deserted, and punctuated by Mr M's hilarious little japes about being brutally murdered.  However, the scariest aspect for me was walking through a part of London which looks just like how I pictured the area where Val's flat is in the Numbers trilogy.  I kept expecting a disenfranchised teen to come out and look at me, knowing the date I was going to die.  They didn't, just to clarify. 

This is the central premise of the Numbers trilogy.  The first is set in contemporary(ish) London and follows Jem, a girl who can see the date that people are going to die in their eyes.  The next two books in the trilogy deal with her son, and are set in a dystopian London of the 2020s. 

I bought them on a whim from The Book People, and am very pleased that I did.  The concept is wonderfully spooky, and the books are gritty.  Ward does not flinch from killing off loved characters.  However, there is hope in the pages, despite all of this.  Some parts of it reminded me of the brilliant The Runaways by Ruth Thomas, which was one of my favourite books as a pre-teen (only available on Kindle nowadays, but well worth a look).

I would not recommend this book for young kids.  It deals with subjects such as violent murder, the inevitability of death, the possible catastrophic effects of climate change, sexual abuse and teenage pregnancy.  However, the story is extremely gripping, and the plot carries the reader along haphazardly through the noisy, dirty, terrifying streets of London.

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