Title: I Am Number Four
Author: Pittacus Lore
Pub. Date: August 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Genre: Science Fiction
Age Range: Young Adult
Synopsis/Teaser: After the vicious Mogadorians, a race of alien beings bent on taking over the universe because they destroyed their own planet, completely obliterate life on the planet Lorien, nine surviving Loric children are sent with guardians to Earth to train. They are placed under a charm that prevents the Mogadorians from killing them out of their assigned order. Numbers One through Three are dead, and Number Four, a fifteen-year-old boy currently living under the alias of John Smith, knows that he is next. He and his Loric guardian, Henri, move to Paradise, Ohio, where John enrolls in the local high school and quickly makes friends- and enemies. When danger nears and Henri says they have to leave Paradise, John refuses: he is too attached to his friend Sam and his new girlfriend Sarah. As the Mogadorians zero in and mystery abounds, John may have to make the choice between friendship and survival.
Review: This one is a real Push-Me-Pull-You. I Am Number Four is a heart-poundingly addictive read. On the other hand, it’s all been done before: there’s very little new about this science fiction adventure. The premise of extraterrestrial children sent away from their home planet because it’s in danger is quite Superman-esque, and the “realistic” part of the book, the scenes at the Paradise, Ohio, high school, are standard and heavy with teenage hormones and angst. That might sound weird, seeing as I’m a teenager, too, but do you think we really want to read about it? I stand corrected: apparently some do, because otherwise so many YA books like this wouldn’t be published and popular.
There are some good things about Number Four: as previously mentioned, it’s very fast-paced and action-packed. Pittacus Lore’s writing (by the way: that’s a pseudonym. Pittacus Lore is a character mentioned in the book) can be very emotional: I can’t say I read the sorrowful parts with completely dry eyes. Nerdy Sam was, while a pretty clichéd dork, endearing. His obsession with aliens is something geeks everywhere can relate to, even if our speciality isn’t extraterrestrials.
Speaking of unoriginal characters, let me discuss Sarah for a moment. She’s a really sweet girl, and she seems to be well-matched to John. But (of course) she’s an ex-cheerleader. Sure, cheerleaders usually get the most attention in real life, but this is fiction. As long as we’re going to have aliens with superpowers in the picture, give the non-cheerleader types (yours truly, and many others) some hope.
I’m also baffled by this Number Four factoid and what it means: Loric people only fall in love once. So, does that mean that John has found a life partner in Sarah? What will happen when Sarah moves on, as she most likely will? These kids are in their sophomore and junior years. I suppose it’s happened before…Anyway, when John tells Sarah “I’ll love you forever,” (and readers either cringe or wistfully sigh, depending on the type) I immediately thought of this line from Beka Cooper: Terrier by Tamora Pierce: “When you’re fifteen, five months is forever.”
Recommended for: Serious sci-fi fans who don’t mind the unoriginality, and anyone who wants a quick dose of action and teenybopper romance.
Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5 possible stars.