Review: I Am Number Four

i am number fourThis review is spoiler-free!

In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now. The Nine had to separate and go into hiding.

They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. They killed them all.

I am Number Four. I am next.

I intended to post a review of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl today but I’m having difficulty in writing a coherent piece, so how about a review of I Am Number Four instead? I picked it up the other day because I’d heard neat things about it previously and it seemed to have both aliens and superheroes as characters. This review will follow a format I’ve used before, where I make a list to sort through the good and bad points of a book.


GOOD: I really liked John as a narrator.

For whatever reason – maybe my favorite authors don’t write them well, maybe I can’t relate – I don’t find most male narrators that memorable. Percy Jackson, Bilbo Baggins, and John Watson are notable exceptions. I like male characters overall, but I’m just kind of meh about guys narrating. I guess I’d rather read about girls kicking butt.

However, I liked John and his narration. He can be a bit stereotypical at times (see my point below about Sarah) but otherwise, he’s a neat guy. Smart, honest, not afraid to show affection. I loved the father/son relationship between John and his guardian, Henri.

BAD: The romance between John and Sarah felt forced and unrealistic.

It’s possible that I’m an antisocial weirdo who doesn’t know how relationships work, so can someone explain to me if it is normal for two people to be dating within about three days of meeting one another?

I didn’t get it. John immediately fell in love with Sarah because she was hot – seriously, he was all “OMG, her blue eyes” and “wow, her blonde hair.” Like he’d never seen such eyes or hair before. There wasn’t much crush-time to speak of. The two began dating pretty much right away.

So is it just me, or is that a bit weird? I’ve had loads of crushes – I’m in the middle of about three right now, which makes for a mess of feelings – but it’s never ever been anything serious if I didn’t know the person for at least a couple months. And here John and Sarah were, saying “love” a few weeks after they met.

Basically, it felt like Pittacus Lore (what kind of name is that anyway? I bet it’s a pseudonym) thought every story needs romance so he added a cute girlfriend.

GOOD: There were aliens! Who were also superheroes! (Kind of.)

I don’t often read science fiction that includes aliens – I mostly read dystopian these days, I’m afraid. I Am Number Four was therefore a nice change from my usual selections in this regard.

I especially enjoyed the parts of the book that talked about Lorien before its invasion.

BAD: Some secondary characters, such as Mark, lacked character development or motivation.

At first, Mark is aggressive towards John. Why? Um, I’m not sure. Supposedly it’s because John is interested in Sarah, Mark’s ex-girlfriend. But they’re, well, exes. They’re over. I don’t know why Mark was so worked up over it, and I could have done without the hyper-macho “dude, I’m going to beat you up” nonsense.

And then, Mark suddenly changed his attitude. By the end of the book he was actually friends with John. It felt forced, like Pittacus Lore wanted a happy ending and didn’t mind if that didn’t fit with what he’d written earlier. I mean, John did beat up Mark pretty badly earlier. But now everything is OK?

GOOD: The book featured a lot of action and adventure.

It reminded me of the Maximum Ride series in its glory days, thanks to the characters with superpowers, realistic dialogue, and child characters who live on the run. There was a lot of tension because John never knew when his time would come, when the Mogadorian would find Number Four.

BAD: The book was too long.

I mean, I liked the action and everything, but I Am Number Four was four hundred and fifty pages long and after a while I just couldn’t see the point. Numerous sections could’ve been cut – all the lovey-dovey mush between Sarah and John, for example. Or the descriptions of training sessions that seemed identical to each other. After a while, the action-filled sections just became an excuse to blow things up.


I Am Number Four was an interesting read. It wasn’t what I normally try, and it frustrated me as often as it delighted me. I’m not sure if I will read the sequels and I definitely won’t watch the movie but for a non-dystopian YA science fiction novel, I Am Number Four was a decent choice.

If you’ve read it, what did you think?

P.S. Thanks to this book, Divergent (Four/Tobias), and Doctor Who (Four aka the one played by Tom Baker), I am now very confused and it might be a good idea to avoid fangirling with me about Four unless you give me some context. Then I can be all, “Ah, you mean the one who transferred factions / wears the long scarf / has Loric superpowers!”

Rating: 3/5


About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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12 Responses to Review: I Am Number Four

  1. Artgirl says:

    Romeo and Juliet met, married, and died within three days of meeting each other. Juliet hadn’t even turned 13 yet. But that was Shakespeare.
    I threw the book I’m reading across the room because the actual first guy character introduced (second character total introduced) immediately becomes the love interest. Already bad. But noooo, it’s not enough for him to be the love interest. The girl has to fall madly, deeply in love with him after having had exactly one conversation with him and say things like “Rajas’s voice is the best sound I’ve heard” and “a thousand fifty moths take flight in my stomach” with such excellent, excellent descriptions as “he is so beautiful, and so nice, with a great sense of humor”.
    …it may actually be vying for the title of worst romance I’ve read. I understand noticing someone around, thinking they’re attractive, and having a fun conversation with them, and then after that taking a little more note of them, but the way the author writes it’s like she’s deeply in love and her love is some sort of special magical true love that she has to mention every time she sees him. No. Get out.

    • nevillegirl says:

      I thought I read somewhere that Shakespeare was trying to make a point about how ridiculous they were. But I’m not sure.

      *sighs* I really loathe this “if a guy and a girl even so much as look at one another, they’re in loooooove” mentality. I don’t mind romance. I don’t mind hetero romance (or, actually, opposite-sex, romance, since they could be bi or whatever…). But jeez. I’m not going to sigh happily and think they’re “OMG SO CUTE” if they don’t actually have any chemistry and were just pushed together so there’d be a romance.
      Also, that description is awful. xD It’s perfectly fine for a character bio/summary/thing, but in an actual book there’s plenty of time to describe a character in depth!

      …I’m curious now, what is the book?

      • Artgirl says:

        You read that in Eleanor & Park, probably. That was Eleanor’s interpretation, and it is one I rather like.

        Those are basically my thoughts. The book is “This Girl Is Different” by JJ Johnson. I chose it because I wanted a break from deep thoughtful books about humanity, so I picked one that looked like your fairly standard YA mediocrity. But it’s even worse than mediocre, so I don’t know if I’ll be finishing it.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Right, yes, it was in E&P.

      …sounds like this girl isn’t different. -_-

  2. Miriam Joy says:

    I hate pointless romance subplots with a passion. If they don’t form an integral part of the plot, then … why bother? (Maybe that’s just my aversion to relationships and romance. Maybe nobody else wants purely platonic narratives. Maybe I should stop talking.) And it’s not like I never write romance subplots because there are half a dozen of them in the Death and Fairies series, but I only put them in if they’re NECESSARY. Blahhhhh.

  3. Fiona says:

    The part about John and Sarah made me crack up- those were my feelings exactly! I just can’t stand the whole “insta-love” thing.

  4. I am now reconsidering if I should read this book. Hmm…

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