I got this book as an advanced reading copy (ARC) through the Amazon Vine program. The premise sounded interesting and overall it was an entertaining book if a bit flawed at parts.
Jem is a fifteen year old girl who has a special skill…she can see a person’s date of death when she looks them in the eye. She befriends a guy named Spider and through a series of coincidences her and Spider are outside the Eye of London when it explodes. Jem saw that everyone standing in line at the Eye was going to die; she panicked and ran off pulling Spider along with her. Now the two of them (both having been in previous trouble with the law) are on the run from the authorities; apparently they were seen fleeing the Eye before it blew up and are now wanted as terrorists.
This book starts out pretty good. Ward brings up a lot of interesting issues about how it would affect your everyday life if you knew when people were going to die. For example, if you knew the person sitting next to you was going to die next week, would you even waste the time getting to know them? Unfortunately the whole premise of Jem seeing numbers never really goes anywhere and is never really used to drive the plot all that much.
Jem and Spider are interesting characters. They are the only characters in the book that are really fleshed-out well. They do a lot of stupid teenage things, but this endures them somewhat to the reader. Jem’s hard attitude are snarky manner are well-portrayed, as is Spider’s boundless energy.
The best parts of the book are the beginning and the middle when Jem and Spider are on the run. These parts of the book just fly by and make the book very difficult to put down. The action scenes are well done, as are Jem and Spider’s struggles to survive in the English wilderness. As the book continues though it doesn’t seem to know where it wants to go. Towards the end of Jem and Spider’s run, the plot became perfectly predictable and boring. I was disappointed that this whole buildup of Jem seeing numbers didn’t really go anywhere much.
There was another huge thing that bothered me that I have seen this in a number of books recently. What is it about female authors not understanding the stages of pregnancy? I mean come on! One female character (I won’t say who to prevent spoilers) has sex and then the next day is nauseous because she is pregnant. Is there anyone out there who has morning sickness the second day of their pregnancy? That is just ridiculous. Okay, sorry, I had to vent about that. I have just seen a couple books that are weird about this lately and it is not something that is hard to research and get right.
So overall I liked it okay. It was a quick, adrenaline packed read for the first part of the book. The end of the book was a bit predictable and odd. I liked Ward’s characterizations and fast-paced writing style; but the plot left a bit to be desired. I can’t really say this book made me really excited to read more books by Ward, but I found it entertaining enough. An additional note on content, there is a ton of swearing, some sex, drugs, and a lot of delinquent behavior in this book; definitely only for older young adult readers or adults.