If you haven’t already noticed all the buzz surrounding the latest YA book-to-movie adaptation, I Am Number Four, you probably will soon. The book only came out last week, but filming on the movie, which is being produced by Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg through DreamWorks Studios, is already underway. I Am Number Four is written by Pittacus Lore, a pseudonym for authors James Frey and Jobie Hughes, and is the first book in their Lorien Legacies series.
In a departure from all the vampires, werewolves, and wizards that have dominated YA books lately, I Am Number Four is about a group of teenage aliens who have come to Earth to escape the enemy who destroyed their home planet of Lorien. Kind of like Superman, nine Loric Garde were placed on a ship when they were just children as a last ditch effort to save them and their race. The kids have been living separately among humans for ten years accompanied by their Cepans (guardians). On their planet, the Cepans are bureaucrats who look after the Garde, or those with special X-Men like powers called Legacies that manifest during the teenage years. The problem is that the enemy, the Mogadorians, know the children are hiding on earth and have come to kill them. A magical protection charm placed on the nine aliens only allows them to be killed in sequential order, one through nine. The first three have been killed, which means number four is next.
Number Four, living under the pseudonym John Smith, and his Cepan, Henri, have moved all over the United States in an effort to evade the Mogadorians. Now they’ve come to Paradise, Ohio and fifteen-year-old John actually has a chance to make a few friends, maybe even a girlfriend, for the first time in his life. He’s tired of running and, now that his Legacies are starting to develop, he might be ready to fight back against those that want him dead.
I Am Number Four is a thriller with a lot of action, some high school drama, and a little bit of romance. I was very interested in the Lorien back-story and what happened with the Mogadorians. Even though the bad guys are a little one-note, they are a terrifying enemy to the Loriens. I found it was very easy to get wrapped up in the exciting plot. Where the book lost me was at the end, when things get slightly ridiculous. The final scenes read like an over-the-top action movie, so if that’s your thing, grab some popcorn and get ready to suspend disbelief.
As for the characters, John is struggling with his newfound superhero powers and the weight of the responsibility he carries. He also has typical teenage problems like girls, bullies, and a parental figure telling him what to do, so in that sense he’s very relatable. I thought Henri, who seems to silently struggle with the losses he suffered and the sacrifices he’s made, was the most interesting character and I wish we could have found out more about him. Some of John’s classmates, like Sarah and Mark, are vanilla and stereotypical, but I did like his nerdy friend Sam. Hopefully the characters will gain a little more depth as the series continues.
While I can’t see I Am Number Four appealing to adults in the way other YA books (like The Hunger Games) have, I do think teens will love it. I especially recommend it to reluctant readers because I think they’ll find all the action and plot very cool. The plan is for the Lorien Legacies series to have a total of six books. Look for the movie version of I Am Number Four to hit theaters in February 2011.
Quotes from I Am Number Four:
Henri: “Hope?” he says. “There is always hope, John. New developments have yet to present themselves. Not all the information is in. No. Don’t give up hope just yet. It’s the last thing to go. When you have lost hope, you have lost everything. And when you think all is lost, when all is dire and bleak, there is always hope.”
John: “That’s the worst way to miss somebody. When they’re right beside you and you miss them anyway.”
And one that can’t be a coincidence:
The force causes it to smash into a million little pieces, leaving an indentation in the wood.
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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars | Publisher: HarperCollins | Pages: 448 | Source: Publisher | Buy on Amazon