Ward’s debut novel, ‘Num8ers’ is about Jem, a 15 year-old who sees the date of death of any person she comes into eye contact with. Crippled by her curse, she avoids social interaction as much as possible but that did not stop Spider, a fellow outcast, from befriending her. While on a trip to the London Eye, Jem noticed that people had the same date of death. The date was today. Time was running out. She and Spider have to start running for their lives.
‘Num8ers’ is a gritty, fast-paced read. Its characters and social situations greatly reminded me of the Brit TV shows: ‘Skins’ (which was mentioned in the novel in passing) and ‘Misfits.’ Jem and Spider are both viewed as juvenile delinquents whose futures are bleak and hopeless. The novel is marketed as a thriller but it is mostly about the two characters’ developing relationship while on the run. The ending was a bit surprising, though loyal to the mood of the novel.
There’s a lot of cussing, a number of criminal acts, and a sex scene in the novel but it’s still a recommended read for teens because they can relate well to the main theme of the novel: hoping for the best despite dire circumstances.
On a side note, I was lucky enough to be part of the webcast done with Rachel Ward a few months ago during the Manila International Book Fair. I even got the chance to ask her some questions and re-welcomed her a few times while the techs on our side were fixing our connection. Based on Ward’s background and demeanor, you wouldn’t imagine her writing this novel but that’s what makes her a pretty good writer.
Did I just indirectly admit that I haven’t read a single book of hers when I talked to her? Oh well…