I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four

Author: Pittacus Lore

Publication: 2010, Harper Collins

Pages: 440

Overall Rating: bth_35_zps7a173504[1]

Rating for Action: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_35_zps7a173504[1]

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary: John isn’t human.  He comes from the planet Lorien, one of nine young children smuggled out just before their planet was destroyed by the Mogadorians.  He’s been raised on earth by his guardian, Henri, and has spent his life moving from place to place, constantly on the run as the Mogadorians hunt down and kill his companions, one-by-one.  And it’s not just the Mogadorians he has to hide from.   John is far stronger and faster than a normal human – and when he develops his legacies he’ll have even greater powers.  One tiny slip-up could reveal him for the alien he is; which has meant a lifetime of keeping his head down and going unnoticed.  Now he’s come to Paradise, Ohio, and by some miracle he has finally found a group of friends.  He doesn’t want to leave.  But the Mogadorians are closing in.  Soon it will be time to fight.

Age of Main Character: 15

What I Liked the Most: The Mogadorians.  They are a species that seem to define evil.  Not only have they trashed their own planet, but now they’re on the hunt for other planets to suck dry of all available resources.  They raise massive beasts to use in battle, and torture them until they’re little more than angry killing machines.  They even charge their guns by sucking up the life energy from nearby plants, and the weapon’s blast shoots out a ray of energy fueled by fear and death.  Unfortunately, pure evil also has its down sides.  Fun as the Mogadorians may be, they’re also nameless and faceless, with nothing to distinguish one hunter from the next and nothing to humanize them.

I also appreciated the way that Lore keeps upping the stakes.  As John’s power grows, so do the dangers he has to confront.  And each time he uses his powers, the risk of discovery is that much greater.  It adds an extra layer of tension.  You KNOW the Mogadorians are coming, but which display of his powers will be the one that tips the scales and reveals his location?

What I Liked the Least: There’s a prominent romantic storyline in the book.  I’ve got nothing against romance.  Plenty of the books I’ve reviewed had romantic elements that really enhanced the story.  But in this case the romance just felt gushy and over the top.  And you knew from the start that it was going to get John in trouble.

How Good was the Action? Some of the early sequences – when John is using his substantial powers against a school bully – felt fairly blah.  The tension came from whether or not John was going to reveal his powers.  Once he decides to do so, the outcome is pre-ordained.  But as the book progresses, and the Mogadorians close in, the action gets a lot more intense.  The final battle is a blast – full of powerful emotions and impossible struggles that take you on a wild ride.  The only downside was that there were too many times during the battle when John seemed to get rescued from near certain death by someone else.  It didn’t diminish the intensity of the action, but I’d have preferred it if the odds stacked against John were a little less overwhelming – making it possible for him to fight more of the battle on his own.

How Engaging was the Story?  It’s an easy, if somewhat light and forgettable, beach read that will keep you turning the pages.  I really enjoyed John’s budding friendship with Sam and their search through the world of alien conspiracy theories.  There are some great scenes as John’s legacy powers begin to develop, and the final battle is seriously fun.

The story did feel somewhat bloated.  Lore devotes too much space to John’s budding romance and early scenes at the high school as tensions escalate between him and the school bully – leading to a few brief spots where the story seemed to drag.  Lore could probably have cut 20 or 30 pages without hurting anything.  But that’s a minor concern.  Don’t let it stop you from reading what looks to be a good kick-off to the Lorien Legacies series.

Profanity: Little to none

Sex: A fair bit of kissing, but nothing more.

Violence: Some, but none of it felt particularly bloody, perhaps because the Mogadorians turn to ash when they die.

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