I really debated if I should even blog about the book Numbers (Num8ers) by Rachel Ward. You see, I am ambivalent about it---I can see why some people might like it, but I don't think it is very well-written---and that makes me think that maybe I shouldn't write anything. When I started this blog a year ago I did so with the hope that my students would actually read and use it to make reading selections. I know that a few of my students do look at it but not as many as I had hoped. Perhaps if I knew that more teens were actually reading my blog I still would question whether I should/should not write about books that aren't my favorites. But I have a feeling that I might be less likely to highlight books that I'm not crazy about because I wouldn't want to put anyone off reading anything. If students read my negative reviews for books that they have already finished and liked will I lose credibility in their eyes? On the other hand, if I never say anything negative here doesn't it look like I love all books and all books are essentially equal, which we all know is not true?
So the debate within me rages on. In the meantime I will tell you a little about why I am so conflicted about this book. For one thing I have read some really great books this summer... books that have stood the test of time (Mrs. Mike; The Summer of My German Soldier; Staying Fat for Sarah Brynes) and books that may very well be the next award winners (The Last Summer of the Death Warriors; The Sky is Everywhere) and this book suffers by comparison. The plot, which falls into the paranormal category that is so popular right now, seems to have potential: a girl, Jem, can see everyone's death date if she looks into their eyes. This is quite disconcerting, obviously, so Jem has a difficult time making friends or fitting in especially since she has to live in foster homes after the death of her mother. She becomes an angry loner. At this point the story takes a twist I wasn't expecting---Jem and another misfit, Spider, are accused of an act of terrorism and go on the lam. It felt like the story wasn't fully flushed out and the characters never became fully developed. The ending was too neat and tidy. The writing wasn't bad, it just wasn't good. In this day and age with so much great YA lit available I will find it hard to recommend this book to many students.