I Am Number Four
by Pittacus Lore (Author)
John Smith is a teenager living in rural Ohio, dating his first girlfriend, dealing with a school bully – and waiting impatiently for his superpowers to kick in. He’s one of nine young refugees from the planet Lorien, constantly on the run from the plundering Mogadorians who destroyed his home. His superpowers, or Legacies, will help him fight off the hostile aliens – but he also happens to be next on their hit list.
Co-written by one James Frey (aka Pittacus Lore), I am Number Four is a fast-paced, entertaining book, and will probably make a cracking movie (it’s already in production). But it’s not as ambitious or mature as its beautiful cover suggests. John’s narration is rather detached and clinical, lacking the intensity of voice that often makes young adult fiction so pleasurable to read. And crucially, the science fiction elements are underdeveloped, which feels like a missed opportunity given the book’s wonderful premise. Lorien is basically a utopian Earth, where inhabitants are rewarded with superpowers for their environmentally friendly way of life. John’s Legacies conveniently develop exactly when and as he needs them. There is precious little that is unique or, well, alien about I am Number Four. A bit more detail would have really made this story sing.