I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
In 2010 I went through an odd phase whereby any movie being released based on a book I would read before it came out and sit there and judge it with intense scrutiny. Having seen the trailer for I Am Number Four I then rushing out to grab the book before the impending movie release date.
Normally I am not into alien battle type-novels, yet as I started reading I found myself intrigued by the whole set-up and writing style of the mysterious and illusive Pittacus Lore.
Set on Earth, Number Four, aka John Smith, is not your normal teenager. He may look like one of us but he is secretly from the planet Lorien, a planet which was destroyed by an evil race of aliens known as The Mogadorians.
Nine children and nine guardians escaped from Lorien while it was being attacked and the aliens took refuge on Earth, believing it was a safe haven. But the Mogadorians found them and followed them here. Now they are killing the Lorien’s one by one in order from nine to one to break the magical bond that unites them.
Setting the story on Earth makes it easy to relate to and as the book goes along we get a glimpse into Lorien and a description of the planet, often described as a utopia. The story is solid and for a first book in a series it does an outstanding job of incorporating an epic back-story while still keeping the current story moving along at a readable peace. This is one of the first books where I could not put it down in places.
The characters are remarkably human for a bunch of aliens. In particular John’s mentor Henri whose pain and loss for his home planet emanates from his character’s motives and his unwavering love and dedication to John, determined to see him evolve with his legacies (superpowers that evolve as the Lorien’s get older). John himself is the typical broody teenager type, falling in love with local all American-girl Sarah in a relationship that is an easy to relate to first love and teenage love affair. Sam Goode is an adorable sci-fi nerd and John’s best friend whose willingness to help John find his friends and fight the Mogadorians. While we are on the subject, the Mogadorians are the most evil, cunning and well versed evil aliens I have ever read in print. Their determination to eradicate that Lorien’s without any remorse or care is thrilling to read and you can sense just what a threat these evil aliens are.
Pittacus Lore is the fictional author of this book and his dedication and love for his invaded home planet is the perfect depiction in the first few chapters. The majority of the story is told through John Smith’s view and this allows us to really get inside his head and feel some empathy and love for this character and situation.
I Am Number Four breaks new ground in fantasy/alien/sci-fi fiction and while aimed at a young adult audience, all ages will find something here. The story is gripping and addictive and with enchanting characters that evoke empathy and understanding it is hard not to fall in love with this universe.
Alisdair Dewar, 9.0/10
“We left when we were very young, almost too young to remember. Almost. And now… We are here to keep our race alive which was almost entirely obliterated. We’re just trying to survive. But we are hunted, and the hunters won’t stop until they’ve killed us all. I know that I am next.”
I am Number Four is written by Pittacus Lore the pen name of Jobie Hughes. I am Number Four has already been made into a major film with great reception. Although I already watched the film some months before reading the book, I generally appreciate the book more than the film, and this was also the case for I’m Number Four.
The concept behind I am Number Four got me interested in the Lorien Legacies; featuring alien races, supernatural powers intermingled with humans. What piqued my curiosity were the bold statements on the cover:
“In the beginning were nine.
Three are gone.
Six are left.
They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
Number Three in Kenya.
I am Number Four.”
I just knew that I was getting into an all-out chase and action-packed story. This is more than true but next to focussing on Number Four there is much more…
I liked how the story picked up firstly going from the death of Number Three and the consequences of this death to the other remaining Numbers. From this point on Number Four takes the stage and you get to know the past and present day adventures of Number Four (also known as John Smith in his new personality).
The Lorien Legacies feature two alien races: The Lorien and the Mogadorians, where the Lorien are the good guys and the Mogadorians evil. The Mogadorians invaded the home planet of the Loriens and after a losing battle 9 chosen children were send to planet Earth as a last resort. The Loriens have exceptional powers, both flashy and subtle, also known as Legacies and they are always on the run for the Mogadorians. They are still growing into their Legacies to build up enough power to confront the Mogadorians.
The Lorien that are on Earth are of two classes: The Garde and the Cepan. All the Numbers are Garde and have specific Legacies, invisibility, controlling weather and telekinesis being just a few. The Cepan are known as their guardians and guide and train the Garde in their power. I got to know the Mogadorians as a more violent race using mostly guns and blades. I found both races nice to read about, the Lorien were however better presented and I do hope to see more of the Mogadorians in the other books. During the adventures that take part in the present day. There are numerous flashbacks back the home planet Lorien. I found this a nice overall addition which gave a glimpse of how certain things came to pass.
Number Four and Henri (his Cepan) are always on the run, trying to avoid the Mogadorians. With the death of Three, they move to a new town to try to settle there for while. In their new town Number Four undergoes a transition. He is 15 year old, going in to puberty and this reflected in the events that occur. Yes, he meets a girl, Sarah. Also he goes on to college where he meets up with the football team and get immediately “bullied”. Some of this might not be original but I found that it did work into the story line and the bigger picture. It shows that Number Four is growing. What I did found most striking is with his new cool powers, Number Four is not showing them off, even with hitting puberty he does know it is important to remain hidden for himself and for Henri. There was another four-legged addition to the story which I first thought was a Mogadorian in disguise but which later proved something completely different.
But it is inevitable that he would be discovered somehow. After this occurs the chapters just flash by. Portraying some nice flashy fighting/shooting/Legacy empowered scenes. I also like the introduction in these scenes of Number Six. The ending leads directly into a new adventure where Number Four and Number Six are on the search for the other remaining Lorien.
I found one part a bit striking. I know that Number Four and Henri have a past with the Mogadorians, but in the final battle next to Number Four and Henri there are also Sam, Sarah and Mark (friends from his school). In my opinion they took the information of Number Four being an alien a bit to casually and all of a sudden they can now kill the Mogadorian (fearsome aliens) with a heart-beat. This transition should have been worked out better.
I am Number Four is fast, nice and casual read. Using a alien invasion theme between two races that battle for the take-over of planet Earth and the other for defending and hoping to go back to planet Lorien. There are enough flashy action scenes to keep things interesting. And although I had seen the film already I still enjoyed the book as some scenes are better in the book but the flashy Legacy powers are shown better on the big screen.
Thanks to Penguin for providing me with the review copy.
Jasper de Joode, 7.8/10
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