Infinity is the conclusion to Rachel Ward's Numbers trilogy, and I think that it's the best of the series. The first book, Numbers (reviewed here), featured Jem, a teenage girl living in present-day London, cursed with a psychic gift. Whenever Jem looked someone in the eye, she saw that person's "number", the day that he or she was going to die. I found the premise, and the adventure that resulted when people learned about her gift, fascinating. Numbers was a book that I thought about long after finishing it. [If you find the idea intriguing, I recommend that you stop reading here. This review may contain spoilers for the first two books.]
The second and third books of the trilogy, The Chaos and Infinity, feature Jem's son, Adam, who inherited her gift. In The Chaos, Adam's life intersects with that of Sarah, a girl with gifts (and problems) of her own.
Infinity picks up two years later, after a massive earthquake has devastated England, leading to a time of chaos and deprivation. Adam, Sarah, and Sarah's daughter Mia are scraping by, camping in the woods with Sarah's two younger brothers. They move frequently, in part because Adam fears that the remnants of the government might still be looking for him. This fear proves correct, as a man named Saul arrives asking Adam to come with him, to use his gift to help the re-emerging government. Saul isn't above using Sarah and Mia to get Adam to do what he wants. Perilous times follow, for Adam, Sarah, Mia, and Sarah and Adam's unborn child.
Both The Chaos and Infinity alternate chapters between Adam and Sarah's viewpoints. I found The Chaos compelling, plotwise, but I found Adam's voice (he's meant to be poor and not very well educated) occasionally jarring. Infinity worked much better for me in that regard. I'm not sure if this is because Ward toned down the slang/poor grammar, or whether the fast pace of Infinity distracted me from noticing. I suspect a bit of both. Certainly it would be reasonable that two years spent with the much more posh Sarah would have smoothed Adam's rough edges a bit. (And it's not the I mind reading the viewpoint of someone from a poor, urban background - the particular voice just didn't scan right for me in The Chaos.)
In any event, Infinity is a real page-turner. Mysterious psychic gifts, underground government bunkers, a truly creepy bad guy, and babies (born and unborn) in peril. There are also intriguing relationship dynamics between Adam and Sarah concerning young Mia's apparent ability to extend her life indefinitely by taking other people's numbers. I read Infinity in a single sitting, scarcely able to put it down to go refill my water glass. I found Infinity particularly suspenseful because Rachel Ward had shown in the first two books her willingness to kill off important characters. I really wondered how she would end the book, right up to the last page. I can't often say that.
Here are a few quotes, to give you a feel for Infinity (and interestingly, after what I said about Adam's voice, all of the passages that I highlighted as I was reading Infinity are from his perspective):
"I was only on the telly once, but it was the last TV most people saw. There are no TVs or computers in England now, no screens or phones. The networks and transmitters got put back after the quake, at the beginning of the Chaos." (Page 6)
"I'm seventeen, with a girlfriend and three children to look after, a baby on the way, and no home and no food, and it's never gonna get better. All I know is it's gonna end one day because I see the end everywhere, in everyone, and I wish I didn't. And even that isn't certain because it could all change. It could all be over tomorrow, or the next day, or the next. Do you think I want this?" (Page 15)
""We all carry burdens," he says. "My theory is that we're given what we can cope with, some of us more than others."
His eyes are bright, almost like there's a fire inside him. I've got no choice but to look at him, listen to him. His number dazzles me, skewering me again with its pain. Why does this death hurt so much more than other people's?" (Page 95)
Infinity, the conclusion to the Numbers series, has a fascinating premise, strong characters, and edge-of-your-seat plotting. It is not to be missed by fans of science fiction, paranormal, and post-apocalyptic YA, or by anyone who enjoys a good story. But do start with Numbers and The Chaos first. I highly recommend the Numbers series.
Publisher: The Chicken House (@Scholastic)
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).