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I first read I Am Number Four after watching the film, and I'm glad it was this way round, because although I knew the storyline, the book completely blew the film out of the water, as they usually do. I quite enjoyed the film so I'm glad I could enjoy it before the book made this impossible!
The book follows a completely original storyline, and is a mix between a teenage romance and science fiction. With first love and superpowers mixed together, the results are surprisingly surreal. The use of first person and present tense gives a very personal and immediate effect which allows you to become more involved with the book, taking incidences to heart, and putting you almost directly in Number Four's shoes. The effect is so powerful I found myself thrilled when I, not Number Four, finally developed telekinesis! Sad I know... It also allows secrets to be kept from the reader, if Number Four doesn't know it, neither do you and when he misinterprets other people, so do you. It lends itself to interesting and sometimes funny consequences!
The storyline follows many typical teenage subjects, and this allows the book to appeal even more greatly to teenagers, on another level, as well as being an exciting science fiction novel. Friendship is one of them, which is a new and frightening thing for Number Four, who has never been in one place long enough, or even been allowed to have friends. You could say this represents a teenagers feelings of isolation when it comes to making new friends. Usually children make and keep friends until their teenage years, when through a variety of circumstances, sometimes through moving schools or changes in interests or personalities, they find themselves needing to make new friends, and find this difficult to start with, given that they may not have made new friends in years. A similarity between Number Four and the reader is made, which makes the book more personal, and overall more enjoyable.
First love is another teenage subject presented in this book. When Number Four falls for Sarah we are shown their first date, how his feelings for her develop, how miserable he is when she goes away, and how he hates to leave her. This again parallels with normal teenage life. First loves can be terrifying and exhilarating at the same time, as well as possibly causing conflict with any ex boyfriends or ex girlfriends (Mark James, Sarah's ex). First loves are usually perfect as well. Sarah is presented as a blonde hair blue eyes beauty, Number Four as a strong independent man/boy. This represents a typical teenagers feelings towards a first love (certainly mine anyway), who is usually seen as perfect or ideal, despite any flaws. This appeals to many people because of the similarity between Number Four's love, and their own love, whether past, present, or desired for the future. It is commonly seen however that first loves can also be over dramatic, and obsessive. It is completely a matter of opinion as to whether Number Four and Sarah are genuinely in love, or if events in the sequel, The Power Of Six, prove that their relationship represents the frivolity of teenage love. This parallel of teen love is conveyed extremely well in the book, and takes advantage of the wishes of every teenage boy and girl who is searching for a first love, in order to add interest to the novel.
Number Four also has many conflicts with Henri, his Cêpan (protector, carer or father like figure) throughout the book. This can be seen as a imitation of teenage arguments with parents.
The parallels presented create a very personal book for teens. It puts a character in their position, one who has all their insecurities, thoughts and everyday arguments, as well as one who has or gains all their desires, such as finding friendship and love.
The other side to this story is obviously the science fiction. The storyline is incredibly individual, I struggle to think of anything similar, and is well put together. It will leave you ordering the sequel, and in my case, wishing the author would write faster! Typical superpowers (desired by us all, even if secretly), owned by attractive teen human-like-aliens, transforming pets, giant alien beasts, treasure chests and artefacts, as well as visions of another planet, all mean that even if you don't like sci-fi, you'll love this!
I Am Number Four has made it into my 'favourite books' section on my bookcase, which is hard to get to by the way. The fast pace thrill and 'leave you wanting even more' sci-fi nature of the book, combined with the the clever parallels to teenage fears and desires make this an awesome read.
My sister has almost as many books as I have, though she is considerably faster at reading than myself (and she has more spare time too!), hence the reason that I find myself reviewing a book that she has lent me....again!
The book in question is - "I am number four, Pittacus Lore".
John Smith is not your average teenager, in fact John Smith is not actually his real name.
Nearly ten years ago John (number four) and his father/guardian Henri (Brandon) fled their own planet of Lorian, after being attached by a parasite race, the mogodorians, who have already destroyed all the resources on their own planet, and are now looking for alternative premises!
After settling on Earth the nine children and their "cepan" guardians (people who are not classed as legacy holders or fighters on their own planet) disappear throughout Earth, and try to hide out from the mogodorians who will inevitably come after them to finish what they have started.
The children will never see each other again, with there only safeguard being the fact that before departure from their own planet a charm was placed upon them, meaning that the children can only be killed in order, so if number one is found and destroyed, a band will appear on the other children's ankle's, indicating who is to be next.
John and Henri have ended up in Paradise, Ohio. As with all the places they have lived secrecy and self preservation is optimum, they must keep to themselves and prepare for when the war begins, and it is coming now that three has gone!
John's legacies have just started appearing which means there is at last hope at fighting and actually defending themselves against their enemies, but much is still needed for the fight to be equal. Especially as the only legacy that John has developed so far is being impervious to the effects of fire.
There is one thing that Henri didn't factor for in Johns upbringing though, and SHE is the daughter of their estate agent!
This is a really unusual book, but one that I really enjoyed reading. This felt like a cross between a teen thriller and heroes!
There is the complex background information that you have to become acquainted, the destruction of John and Henri's home planet, with the first two chapters going some way bringing you up to speed with this, then the parts where John has to pretend he is a simple teenage boy, which you know he isn't, but in some ways he is!
There is no real action within the book until the last coupe of chapters, though if there was I think it would have happened far too soon, spoiling the dramatic build up to it, this said though the story is still quite fast moving and at no times feels staid or boring, flipping seamlessly between teenage boy's troubles and trying to stay alive!
The information about the mogodorians and John's people I have to say feels very familiar, almost like an amalgamation of all the stuff that I would have previously heard or read about aliens and invasions, but still felt a little chilling to read about, especially when the facts arise that they may already have been here for some time, and the real reason thy are on the planet in the first place!
There is no real bad language or sexual content in he book, and would be suitable for any reader teenager age upwards, with his having a real feel of Twilight about it, but still making it more than readable for a grown woman like myself!
RRP of this is £7.99, but will of course be available cheaper via www.amazon.co.uk
This is a really great read, and would be suitable even if you are not an alien or sci-fi genre fan (which I am not!), and one that I would thoroughly recommend.
Thanks for reading x
I recently saw the film version of "I Am Number Four" and didn't enjoy it too much, finding it lacking in many ways. Even allowing for the fact that books are nearly always better than films in comparative titles, I didn't have any plan to read the book, until my flatmate came home with a copy having picked it up in the WHSmith "Buy 1 Get 1 Half Price" offer. Sometimes a good book can be turned into a bad film; sometimes a bad film results from having a bad book to work from. That was the case here.
As with the film, the book of "I Am Number Four" follows the life of John Smith, who is an alien who escaped from Lorien when his home planet was invaded and destroyed by the Mogadorians. John and his guardian Henri escaped to Earth, along with eight others. The Mogadorians have followed them and have successfully killed three of the refugees. John Smith knows he is fourth on the list and therefore next.
John and Henri run away to Paradise, Ohio, to hide out. Whilst there, John becomes involved with people at his local school, making the best friend he ever has and falling completely in love for the first time. He is also subject to bullying from his girlfriend's ex and a combination of these things results in John's secret nearly being discovered and the resulting coverage may be enough to alert the Mogadorians.
To be fair to the book, it has at least proved to be more than a match for the film, but that was never going to be a difficult thing to accomplish. The opening to the book doesn't give as much of the storyline away as it does in the film, as it's not so visual and in your face. Admittedly, you do know exactly what's going on very early on and there is precious little intrigue and suspense, but putting a major plot spoiler in the early pages doesn't have as great an effect here.
The pacing of the story leaves a little to be desired as well. There are moments of action, followed by pages of the love story. Just when it looks as if things are going to get a little bit exciting, things slow down again and somehow the next action scene never quite comes in time to save you from getting bored. Admittedly, the action scenes are quite good, but they tend to showcase John Smith's abilities, which earlier parts of the story have already given away, so there's nothing surprising in them and the story as a whole never leaves you hanging to see the ultimate outcome, merely how it will come to pass.
The writing isn't enough to keep you reading when the story gets into one of its slower phases, either. I realise that the story is aimed at the young adult market, but even so I don't think the authors have given their intended audience enough credit. There doesn't seem to be enough relentless excitement to keep a reader bored and teenagers can certainly cope with better writing than there is here. At many points it feels as if it's been perfectly aimed at the MTV generation, in as much as the pace seems to follow the MTV theory of having a couple of songs and then breaking for adverts.
Ultimately, all I gained from the book was an understanding of why the film version was as weak as it was, as the source material it was taken from was equally weak. I can see how the book may appeal to younger readers, who may be able to find more excitement than I did and who may not object to the weaknesses in the plot and the writing. However, I think that in aiming for the young adult market, the authors have aimed too high and I would suggest this may appeal more to older children, rather than young adults.
My flatmate picked the book up on offer for half price, which is still more than I felt it deserved. Indeed, the lowest price I have seen for a copy is £2.00 including postage from eBay, which I think is still pushing things a little in terms of value. It's not a bad basic idea all round, it's just poorly executed in terms of pacing and storyline, which makes the whole reading experience feel a lot worse than it ideally could or should have been.
I came across this book by accident last week. I found it in Tesco on the 2 for £8 offer. I was intrigued by the cover; it seemed like my sort of book.
"We were Nine
Three are Dead
I am Number Four"
I didn't really know what it was about but the synopsis on the back made it sound like a good read. I started reading that night and I have to confess, I wasn't really that impressed. I don't generally read sci-fi although I do enjoy watching it. As I began reading I convinced myself that it wasn't "my kind" of book - probably because it wasn't what I was expecting. I decided to pursue with it and the next day I took it to work with me to read during my lunch break. From that point forward I was hooked! I read the book within 5 days. Admittedly it's not a challenging read but it is very intriguing, almost every chapter ends with a cliff-hanger.
The book is written by Pittacus Lore. I did a bit of internet searching about this author and found out that he is one of two authors writing this book and this is a pseudonym. One of the authors is actually called James Frey, by all accounts he is a bit of a controversial author who has had a lot of media attention because of a book he wrote, published as memoirs but turned out to be a work of fiction.
There are apparently another 2 books to be written in this series. The next book is called The Power of Six due to be released in August 2011. I Am Number Four has already been made into a film and is being released in cinemas on the 23rd February 2011.
The main character in the book is John Smith and he lives with Henri, who is acting as his dad but in their world he is his guardian. They are aliens and come from a planet called Lorien, which is very similar to Earth. Their planet was attacked by Mogadorians, another race of aliens.
Nine children escape from Lorien with their guardians during the war, which was to wipe out life on Lorien. A charm is placed over the children so that they may only be killed in their number sequence. The first 3 children have already been killed over the space of 10 years on the run from the Mogadorins and the book begins with the story of number four.
John and Henri are always on the run so that they are not detected by the Mogadorins that are also living on Earth. At the age of 15 John wants to settle down and live a normal life. They move to a place called Paradise in Ohio. John starts his new school and tries to keep a low profile but he befriends a girl called Sarah and her ex-boyfriend isn't too happy about it. John isn't a normal 15 year old boy; he's strong and fast, much more so than human boys. To add to his strength and speed, his legacies are beginning to develop. He soon discovers through the aid of Henri, that he is heat and fire resistant. As soon as his legacies begin, Henri begins his combat training. There are more legacies to develop, telekinesis being another one of them. They plan to defeat the Mogadorians so that they may one day be able to return to Lorien.
John also makes friends with a boy called Sam Goode, who believes in aliens. Sam one day starts talking about an article that he read in one of his magazines about the Mogadorians being on Earth and how they plan to kill all humans and take over the planet. John and Henri are both shocked by the accuracy of the article written and Henri decides to investigate further into the source and writer of the information.
A number of events happen in Paradise which puts John in main view. Their identity is under threat and questions start being asked. The Mogadorians find John and the war begins.
The main characters in the book are:
Henri Smith - Guardian
Sarah Hart - John's girlfriend
Sam Goode - John's Best Friend
Bernie Kosar - John's Dog
Mark James - Sarah's Ex-boyfriend
This was such a fantastic read. Probably one of the best books I have read in a long time. The only thing that I did not like about the book was the teenage love story; it made me cringe at times. I do believe that this has a big part to play in the next books to be released though. Highly recommend this book to everyone. It is a little dark in places but the author/s did a fantastic job of creating a great mood and atmosphere. I was completely lost in this book for about 5 days. Definite 5 star rating from me!