I loved Numbers by Rachel Ward, even when called Döden i dina ögon. As the ultimate language snob I always say you need to read everything in the original as far as possible, so am busy eating my words.
For some reason I never got round to reading Numbers when it was first out, and after meeting Rachel in Edinburgh last year I felt I really must. And still didn’t. And it’s not always the thought that counts. Then I came across a review of the Swedish translation on a teenage blog, and Rachel hadn’t even heard it was out there yet, until I told her. She offered me one of her translated copies, which has been languishing for months, waiting for me to get into a translation mood. Because I do not feel like reading Swedish while in Sweden. Call me weird, but I feel better doing it the other way round.
It’s a scary concept, this idea that 15-year-old Jem can look into the eyes of people and see the date when they will die. (But one that the witch in me can sympathise with.) So she and her friend Spider avoid getting caught up in a bomb attack because she works out something bad is about to happen. Then they have to run away as the police believe they are terrorists.
They become close during their escape, but things don’t go too well, which is hardly surprising for two disadvantaged teenagers. And Jem can see that Spider will die soon. She desperately wants to prevent it.
As the first of three books Numbers obviously still has some way to go before the reader knows all. There is a cliffhanger, but it’s a mild sort of cliffhanger, because after what happens in Numbers you feel ready for almost anything. Rachel has already moved the plot into the future by the end, and I can’t help wondering if this is significant.