Fifteen-year-old Jem has a gift, although she would never call it that. When she looks people in the eye she can see the date they are going to die. She's been able to do this for as long as she can remember and has tried to keep people as far away from her as possible - which isn't as hard as it sounds considering she has been shunted from foster home to foster home since she was seven. Things start to change when she makes friends - against her will - with Spider, a boy from her school. Together they witness a terrible event, which they would have fallen victim to if it wasn't for her special insight, but although it saves them from immediate danger it also places them under suspicion too.
I found Numbers difficult to get into initially. Not because of the pace - which is blistering - but because of the main character, Jem. She has a very distinctive and authentic voice but she is filled with anger and bitterness which simply made her hard to warm to. I could see why she behaved the way she did, it was understandable (to a point) and realistic but it made it a somewhat depressing read. (view spoiler)[ First she's moaning about how grim London is, then she hates the countryside too and throws toddler-like tantrums. (Though I did think their cluelessness out in the sticks was very well done) (hide spoiler)]
Thankfully Spider, who was full of energy and a touch more optimism, managed to balance it out and the good thing about her prickly attitude was that it gave her room to grow; her character development was skilfully handled.
As I mentioned before, the pace was great and nearly every single chapter ended on a cliff-hanger. The voice was very consistent, showing you the world through Jem's eyes, but although there was enough there to point out that it isn't all as grim as she assumed, at the same time I think it might have been a little too subtle for younger readers to pick up on. I also found that some of the plot points strained my credulity. (view spoiler)[Particularly with regard to the Police and their actions. In the aftermath of 9/11 everyone would assume the terrorist was in the pod and usually when terrorist attacks take place the group who are responsible send some kind of message before or after - that's the point of them: to make a statement. Another thing that bugged me was Jem's pregnancy symptoms - it's so, so rare for a woman to start feeling any noticeable symptoms earlier than six weeks, let alone two days after conception. (hide spoiler)]
However, this was a good book, written from a refreshing perspective with an interesting premise.