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Home > Book, Book Review, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Young Adult > Book Review – I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Book Review – I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Book Description:

Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books—but we are real. Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. We have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know. They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. They killed them all. I am Number Four. I am next.

About the Author:
Pittacus Lore is Lorien’s ruling Elder. He has been on Earth for the last twelve years, preparing for the war that will decide Earth’s fate. His whereabouts are unknown.

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I pick books to read for many (stupid) reasons (sometimes just because I like the blurb or the cover), but I think this is the first time I picked a book solely based on the trailer for the movie-based-on-a-book, and it wasn’t even a real trailer, just a teaser one (Watch it on YouTube!). I Am Number Four (the movie) stars Dianna Agron and Alex Pettyfer, so I guess I can be forgiven for being utterly surprised to find that Number Four (or John Smith) is just all of fifteen in the book. The actors look way older.

I Am Number Four is a very quick & easy read, it’s possible to read it in a couple of hours and at one sitting. It’s written for the teen/ YA crowd, and it’s a quite exciting start for an action-oriented SciFi YA series (Lorien Legacy). Who wouldn’t be intrigued by the story of a young alien boy, one of only nine children who escaped the destruction of their home planet Loric, spirited to Earth, in hiding for the past ten years since they are being hunted to extinction by an evil alien warrior race called Mogadorians? Due to a charm that protects the children, the Mogadorians can only kill one child at a time according to their number. In the meantime, the children (now teenagers) hope to survive long enough to develop their powers (or Legacies) so they can properly defend themselves. I dare you not to be charmed by the concept of the book at the very least.

The book opens with the murder of Number Three, prompting the flight of Number Four (aka John Smith) and his teacher/guardian Henri to hide at some invisible place in the USA called Paradise, Ohio where hopefully, John can stay safe for a while, blend in, hide, and train for his upcoming confrontation with the Mogadorians since he’s the next up. The story is narrated in first person by John himself, and if you know any 15-year-old boys, that’s kind of bad news since very few 15-year-olds are particularly good at communication. It makes for a clunky uninspired start since the narrator is very fond of speaking in very short sentences/paragraphs, and isn’t very fond of giving us much detail about anything. Everything is kind of a cliché or not expounded on, plus the dialogue is kind of laughable. That minimal style only works well later on in the last half of the book, where it’s basically breathless non-stop action and fight sequences, and the substandard writing style isn’t so glaring anymore.

John is actually a very sweet innocent alien teen-ager, he’s awkward & insecure, bully bait (since he’s the new kid), totally mushy when he falls in love at first sight with his classmate Sarah, loves his guardian Henri and his adopted dog Bernie Kosar, and all he wants is to be left alone to be a real teen-ager. The story starts to pick up when John’s special powers slowly appear (and I liked that John doesn’t develop the usual super powers, and that the gifts appear in a staggered fashion & have to be honed). When the Mogadorians finally appear on the scene, the sense of danger spikes dramatically, and the action speeds up & becomes exciting enough that the inferior writing style is compensated by the can’t-put-it-down suspense. Can John survive to fight another day? Will he lose all he holds dear?

I won’t spoil what happens, except to say that the latter part of the book goes a long way to making up for the slightly insipid start. I have no idea if the other books in the series will introduce more of the Loric children, but whoever author(s) is/are hiding behind the pseudonym of Pittacus Lore, I hope he’s hard at work at Book #2. My nephew who hardly ever reads anything really enjoyed the story (minus all the ‘romance’), and that’s great in my book that anyone can get that boy to read anything.

(Update: Okay, just found out who Pittacus Lore is – it’s James Frey – of the fake memoir ‘Million Little Pieces’ fame – “co-writing” with rookie author Jobie Hughes under Frey’s Fiction Factory! Interesting article on NY Mag about him!)

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore is available on Amazon as a Kindle Edition ($9.99) and Hardcover ($12.23).

You can also get the book for $9.99 at Sony eBook Store, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Borders and BooksOnBoard.

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