Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

I knew that I had to read this book when I saw a trailer for it at the movie theatre.  Its official release date is this Friday, February 18th, and I always need to read a book before I see the movie version of it.  Usually, I like the book much better and never make it to the movie because I know I’ll be disappointed.

Let me start with the positives.  First of all, I love science fiction.  This book is not about vampires or werewolves or fallen angels – which is really refreshing.  In fact, while maybe not the most original of ideas on the surface level, it is definitely interesting. 

The main premise is that nine Lorics from the planet Lorien are being raised on Earth to prepare to some day return to their ravaged planet.  (On a side note, Pittacus Lore is one of the elders who created the plan to save the planet by sending these nine to Earth and interestingly, is the author of the book – which I LOVE, as a twist!)

A race from another planet, the Mogadorians from the planet Mogadore, started a war on Lorien and basically wiped out their race, except for the nine toddlers and their handlers who escaped on a ship to Earth.  The Mogadorians had destroyed their own planet by abusing its resources and were looking for another home. 

As the Lorics move into adulthood, they begin to uncover special powers – or Legacies – which will help them battle the Mogadorians who are now searching for them on Earth.  The power of the legacies have made it impossible for the Mogadorians to kill the Lorics, except in a special order.  Because of this, the Lorics dispersed upon arrival on Earth and have no contact, making it more difficult for the Mogadorians to find them.  Thus, the main character, who changes his identity constantly for safety reasons but in the book is known as John Smith (Number 4), and his guardian Henri are always on the move, prepared to leave a location at any moment, making it hard to form any lasting relationships with humans.

Now comes some of the negatives.  At the beginning of the book, the first three are killed, so John’s number is up.  Henri has hidden them in a small town as they await their next move.  John is trying to acclimate into the new town as the new student, but this is the part where I begin to lose interest.  Throughout the book, John makes extremely poor choices.  Knowing that the survival of his race depends upon him and that he is the next in line to die, he attempts actions that make him stand out from others.  Generally, I like the kid, but I found myself continually smacking my head and thinking, You idiot!  Why did you do that? And the fact that Henri lets him get away with this behavior without moving them on to a new location is also difficult to believe, since it seems he never allowed it in the past and the stakes have definitely been raised this time around.

Part of me wants to excuse John for being a hormonal teenager, but when his entire planet depends on  him for survival and continuance, I find it hard to believe he allows a crush to detract him from his crucial goal. 

The characters with depth are John, Henri, and John’s new friend, Sam – but the rest are two dimensional, including the crush, Sarah, which makes it harder to see her as worth John giving up his important mission. 

Too much of the plot is spent fighting the school bully.  The real action only comes at the end.  While it is a quick read, I still expected more.  I do believe, however, that a sequel to this book may be more promising as most of the storyline has been set.  The real action, in book number two, can now begin.  I only hope Number 5 has a bit more common sense than Number 4 – John.

The trailer definitely looks promising! Check it out:

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