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!”