“In the beginning we were nine.
We left when we were very young, almost too young to remember. Almost. And now . . .
Three are gone.
We are here to keep our race alive, which was almost entirely obliterated. We’re just trying to survive.
Six are left.
But we are hunted, and the hunters won’t stop until they’ve killed us all.
They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
I am Number Four.
I know that I am next.”
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (the pseudonym for authors Jobie Hughes and James Frey) has been touted as one of the most exciting new releases for this year – the book’s film rights were secured months before release and is due out in February produced by Michael Bay (Transformers) and Steven Spielberg.
Lorien is one of the eighteen life sustaining planets in the universe. Life, similar to that of Earth has been thriving there for millions of years with the people there developing technologies much like our own. These technologies however almost destroyed their planet (like what is happening here on Earth) so the people of Lorien reform their ways and swap the pollutants for eco-friendly and sustainable living. On this planet there are two types of people – the Garde who develop powers called Legacies and the Cêpan who protect them.
Then the Mogardorians show up. Dark, ruthless creatures that have come to wage war on Lorien to take control after they sapped their own planet of resources. An ugly clash takes place while the people of Lorien were caught off guard and the battle is lost. However, 9 children, and their Cêpan guardians, are shipped off the planet to Earth, to bide their time and return when they can fight to save their home.
Confused? Stay with me, stay with me…
Ten years on the Mogadorians are after the 9 children and they must be killed in order. Three are dead and John, is fourth in line. He’s been on the run all his life but now the stakes are higher, he must remain hidden till his powers develop so he can finally fight back against those who took everything from him.
Once you get past the disorientation that comes with starting a sci-fi or fantasy book you settle into the story and get quite absorbed in John’s story. It’s exciting and suspenseful with more than one occasion that felt like “Ohmygodohmygod, what? What? WHATS HAPPENING?” this book really knows how to get you into the feel of the chase.
There are a couple of plot holes (like, how come a whole planet of adults with Legacies can’t defeat the Mogardorians but 9…now 6 kids will?) and times where things were a bit predictable or convenient but overall I did enjoy it though it didn’t live up to my excitement.
Like most YA novels, there is a love story, but this one made me cringe. After arriving at a new school John falls in love with the very beautiful, nice, caring, smart, artistic, apparently flawless, Sarah. Their relationship doesn’t feel believable and within the space of three months have developed a lifelong devotion that is based on not much other than their “love”.The dialogue between John and Sarah made me roll my eyes, particularly when John gives his big reveal about his identity; she just looks him in the eyes and believes him. Just like that. No questions or doubt. She just loves him more. Gag.
I had conflicting feelings about John himself as a main character. We’re in his head the whole time and you sympathize with his situation and see that generally he’s a pretty good kid. But….toward the end I felt very frustrated with him, once his powers surfaced it’s like he lost any survival instinct and more than once I felt like yelling, “JUST RUN JOHN, RUN!” where he put himself and the people around him in danger when it really wasn’t necessary…..but I guess, then we wouldn’t have a story.
On the other hand, John’s guardian Henri and best friend Sam were great characters that you warm up to. Henri has been John’s surrogate dad for the last 10 years and always displays a sense of wisdom and kindness whereas Sam is a quirky guy who ironically is fascinated by aliens and U.F.Os.
Despite its flaws I Am Number Four still has its merits such as the non preachy approach to sending an environmental message. There’s great skill in the way atmosphere is built up, there’s a sense of fear and suspense that’s only seen in your nightmares. It’s a sci-fi book but not to the point that it will only appeal to sci-fi fans, it’s got plenty of action and as the first of a planned six book series it’s off to a decent start.
Publication Date: August 2010
Teaser Quote: “He tells me I need to jump. I stand on legs that are wobbly and still hurt, and just before I jump, I turn and see the three Mogadorians are standing on the porch across the street. They are staring at me, and their swords are gleaming.”