There is a small announcement on the front cover of this book “soon to be a major film” which, had I noticed when I bought the book online may have diThere is a small announcement on the front cover of this book “soon to be a major film” which, had I noticed when I bought the book online may have dissuaded me from purchasing it. For I Am Number Four follows the tried and tested standard Hollywood teen blockbuster format. The author, Pittacus Lore, is described as “a Lorien Elder, who was entrusted with the study of the Lorien Nine”. In reality it is the pseudonym of James Frey and Jobie Hughes, James Frey being the notorious author of the memoir A Million Little Pieces.
Teen alien, John Smith, with nascent superpowers, is on the run from his planet’s enemies, the Mogadorians who have followed him and eight others to Earth. There is a protective charm which means that the nine Loriens must be killed in order… the first three have been discovered and eliminated; now it is John’s turn. Since arriving on Earth he has lived with his protector, Henri, moving around the US, keeping one step ahead of the Mogadorians. He has avoided forming relationships, always aware of the need to leave at short notice, until he reaches Paradise, Ohio. Here he meets and falls for Sarah, the pretty blonde girlfriend of the high school quarterback. He also makes friends with the class nerd, Sam. John wants to stop running from his enemies and settle down for a while.
So there is not much originality in the plot, in a lot of ways I Am Number Four is almost a Twilight for boys as there is plenty of explosions and kick-ass action to balance the romance angle. Yet, despite the clichés, it is a surprisingly entertaining read. John’s dreams of Lorien, his home planet, give us a feel for his legacy and why it is so important that he survives. The fight scenes are also well done, reminiscent of Buffy I thought. I found the relationship between John and Henri interesting as the latter developed from protector to mentor through the book. The mutual respect between the pair was clear without becoming sentimental. Sam too was an endearing character; the archetypal nerd who acted as a foil to John’s undercover alien superhero persona. Watch out for Bernie Kosar, a rather cute beagle who befriends John…
What I didn’t like was the depiction of Sarah as the love interest. Of all the characters, she was the most one-dimensional and a bit too good-to-be-true. There were few female roles and she was too sickly sweet for my taste. Not a good role model despite her having given up cheer-leading to become more of an individual – I imagine she will be wearing a lot of pink in the movie. There was also a tendency for John’s various powers to emerge just when the situation required them. This, to me, smacked of laziness on the part of the writers, a handy plot device that was misused once too often. However, I Am Number Four is aimed at a male teen readership and anything that gets this age group interested in science fiction, no matter how clichéd or simplistic, can only be a good thing. There were sufficient action sequences to hold the Wii/X-box generation attention span and social issues such as being the new kid at school and bullying were handled well.
Overall I enjoyed I Am Number Four and it kept me entertained on a sunny afternoon in the garden when I wanted something light to read that required little effort on my part. I am not the target audience, however, so the flaws were blatantly obvious to me, but these did not distract or irritate me as much as Twilight (I couldn’t finish that book!). I will be passing I Am Number Four on to my nephew, aged 12 and will be interested to see what he makes of it.
After finishing Room, I am not surprised it has been nominated for the Booker Prize 2010. It is the bittersweet story of a 5-year old boy, Jack, who lAfter finishing Room, I am not surprised it has been nominated for the Booker Prize 2010. It is the bittersweet story of a 5-year old boy, Jack, who lives with his mother in the eponymous Room, an 11x11 foot soundproofed, locked shed. Told from Jack's point of view, the book starts with his fifth birthday and follows him through his daily routine and subsequent life-changing events. This is a very powerful book and I defy anyone not to shed a tear or two at how Jack copes with the revelation that the world he sees on TV actually exists. Highly recommended....more