Margaret's Reviews > I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
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's review
Feb 24, 11

bookshelves: ya, finished
Read in February, 2011

A world of meh. "John Smith" (seriously), is an alien, one of nine teenagers who fled Lorien when the planet came under siege. He's living in a small town in Ohio with his guardian Henri, hiding from the Mogadorians who are bent on killing him, and on taking over Earth. The Loriens can only be killed in order (for reasons that the text never makes explicitly clear, though the book's publicity machine does), and numbers one through three are already dead. He is Number 4.

Oy -- five out of five for plot, about a one for characters, voice, logic, coherence and tone. Kids will love it, and it should be a great movie (the movie rights were sold before the publishing rights). But as a book it's pathetic. The stock characters read like he got them out of a piece of software: nerdy sidekick, beautiful blond girlfriend, bully. Oddly, only the minor characters of the bully and the sidekick actually grow and develop (the girlfriend is given about as much to do as the girlfriend typically gets in an action film). The hero and villains are comically stereotypical: John is prettier, stronger and better than everyone else, but he has to keep it a secret, until he witnesses an injustice that he cannot let pass! Or must save the beautiful girl!

The Loric are peaceful harmonious beings who have outgrown silly Earth-like wars and consumption of resources. The Mogadorian "beasts" are described as "forty feet tall, broad shouldered, with red eyes and horns twenty feet in length. Drool falls from its long, sharp teeth." They're bent on destruction, having used up their world's natural resources; like the aliens from "Independence Day" they prey on other worlds like locusts. But in one of the book's numerous logical gaps, in a flashback of the Mogaordian attacks "there was too much hatred for them to be only interested in our resources. There was more to it than that." Except -- this is never followed up. Why would they be angry at the Loriens? Or the people of Earth?

The logic issues can be infuriating. In the final battle, numerous 40-foot beasts battle it out in the woods behind the town's high school, setting off explosions and destroying trees. Another Lorien summons a tornado. Yet no one in town except the sidekick seems to notice that the high school is under attack, and he slips in undisturbed. The book by Jobie Hughes and James Frey is being published under the pseudonym of "Pittacus Lore," one of the elders of Lorien who mysteriously disappeared just before the attacks. But the book is told in the first person. So, did Lore make it up? Is Lore really Number 4? No explanation, and I don't think it's because there's some secret that will be revealed later I think they just forgot.

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