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Fifteen-year-old Jem has a singular and terrifying ability-looking people in the eye reveals to her the date they will die. Needless to say, she avoids eye contact. Her mother overdosed; she's on her umpteenth foster home; and school (when she goes) is a dead-end special education class. But school also brings her closer to Spider, a gangly bundle of raw energy who genuinely likes Jem-and who she knows has just weeks to live. Their bittersweet courtship becomes terrifying when their first date ends in a terrorist bombing at the London Eye. Jem escapes with Spider moments before the blast, but witnesses report their flight and suddenly they are persons of interest in a police investigation. It's a gritty tale, unsparingly told, and debut novelist Ward demonstrates exceptional control of her material. Her characters remain true to themselves and their bleak circumstances, making for some excruciating moments. This is not an easy read, but it isn't entirely hopeless either. Despite its supernatural premise, Jem's story shines a stark and honest light on the lives of teens on the fringe. Ages 14-18. (Feb.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
Gr 8-10-10102001. That's Jem's mother's number. Jem saw it whenever she looked into her mother's eyes, but it wasn't until four years after the woman's fatal heroin overdose when Jem was 11 that she realized that the number was the date her mother would die. And it's not just that number that the teen sees-she knows when everyone will die by looking into their eyes. Isolating herself from the rest of humanity seems to be the only solution until Spider, a freakishly tall, twitchy mess of a boy, refuses to leave her alone. In spite of the fact that she knows his death date is only months away, she can't resist his overtures of friendship. One afternoon, while ditching school, they head for the London Eye tourist attraction. When Jem realizes that several people standing in line are fated to die that very day, she panics and takes off. Newspapers and television pick up the story, and Jem and Spider, targeted as the terrorists responsible for destroying the Eye, or at least witnesses, are on the run in a stolen car. Ward's debut novel is gritty, bold, and utterly unique. Jem's isolation and pain, hidden beneath a veneer of toughness, are palpable, and the ending is a real shocker. Teens who read Charles De Lint, Holly Black, and Melvin Burgess will take to this riveting book and eagerly await the upcoming sequel.-Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.