I Am Number Four

(Lorien Legacies #1)

by Pittacus Lore*

I Am Number Four jacketNine young aliens and their guardians came to this planet seeking asylum from the invaders of their own planet. Protected by their human-like appearance and a charm that insists they be killed in numerical order, Number Four has managed to survive until age 15. He and his guardian, Henri, move constantly to stay hidden.

When the charm that protects the group lets Four know that Three has been killed, he (under the new name of John) and Henri travel to Paradise, Ohio to continue their quest to stay alive long enough for Four’s powers to become fully recognized.

So.

Where to start.

Let’s get this out of the way right from the get-go. I Am Number Four is the first book to come out of James Frey’s fiction factory. Which, in a nutshell, means that Frey (of the A Million Little Pieces debacle) is getting writers to sign a shady contract and co-write (read: mostly write themselves) books with commercial appeal for a very small percentage of the resulting money (and an inability to discuss the fact you are involved with the project).

To be clear, having books co-written, under a pseudonym, for commercial gain is not exactly a new concept in publishing (see numerous books series I read as a young Kell), but what’s appalling about this situation is the shady contract. So, obviously, this has created quite a bit of drama surrounding I Am Number Four. If you’re interested, here are two links that go further into the drama with much more intelligence and understanding than me.

But I wanted to mention that because I thought I should note that I DID know about all that before reading I Am Number Four. I wanted to read it for myself to see if it was even good (esp. with the movie about to come out). So I requested it into the library to give it a go. And here are my thoughts.

Mediocre. Really.

Here’s the thing. The premise itself is one that is prominent in the sci-fi world: aliens come to Earth, pose as humans, live among us, etc., etc. So, that made the storyline a bit on the predictable side. It also suffers from being the first book in a series that needed an elaborate setup. Also, many of the secondary characters are completely one dimensional. I was particularly frustrated with Sarah, Four’s love interest. She was the perfect, needy, I-can-do-no-wrong-Princess. And, therefore, completely terrible.

What annoyed me, however, was that there were spots of brilliance that showed such POTENTIAL. All of the Lorien backstory was amazing, as was Sam and Four’s friendship. I feel like most of the book was just waiting. Waiting for the inevitable to happen. The only thing that surprised me (BIG SPOILER COMING FOLKS)(although all the movie trailers are showing it now, so maybe not so big?) was the awesome appearance of Six. When she showed up it made Sarah’s blandness even more apparent. So the awesomeness rebounded a bit. Epic sigh.

I’ve read a few reviews that claim the book is generic. And it is. But generic isn’t always bad. Too many things (including the previously mentioned fiction factory baggage) work against this book, turning what could be a fun, if generic, read into a problematic read.

Where this book came from: the library

p.s. I have to give props to both the design and the marketing of this book. QR Codes, the series name on the page ends, the tagline – all a home run. Granted, it does help knowing that a movie is on its way…

*Obviously, this is a pseudonym. Sigh.

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