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Sunday, October 27, 2013

I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies #1) by Pittacus Lore

Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books - but we are real.

Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. We have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

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.

Released: August 3rd 2010   Pages: 440
Publisher: HarperCollins        Source: Library
First Look: ***** There have been so many times where I've gone to the library and almost checked this one out...then then set it down.  It's gotten lots of attention, though, especially when it was made into a movie.  It's another one of those "I just want to see what the big deal is" reads.  (Why do I keep doing that?  I need to stop it, because it often doesn't go well.)

Setting: *****
The setting didn't play a large role in the book.  I would've liked to see more of the effect of being an alien on John.  (Number Four?  What do I call him?  If I call him "Four", I feel like I'm talking about Tobias or Tom Baker.  What did they call him on Lorien?)  He isn't from Earth, and he knows it, and this would have an emotional and psychological effect on anyone.  Also, I would've liked to learn more about Lorien itself. 

Also, the high school that John attended was not portrayed realistically.  It was the over-stereotyped and over-simplified high school that you'd see on a bad TV-show or movie, complete with every cliché that goes along with that--the jocks, the nerds, the cheerleaders, etc.  Why does this keep happening in fiction?  It doesn't work like this in real life, and it's degrading to teenagers.  I'm sick of writing about this in my reviews, but the stereotypes just don't go away.  It's sad that I have to keep pointing this out.

Characters: *****  
John was a decent character.  He was a bit of a Gary Stu, but he also had elements that made him likable.  He didn't stand out from the vast crowd of other YA heroes, but I didn't hate him, either.  I got a strong sense of emotion from him, and my guess is that this will only get stronger in future books.

Everyone else was either flat, stereotypical, or both.  One of the number one ways to make me mad at a book is to present teenage characters that conform to High School Musical-eque stereotypes, and sadly, I Am Number Four is full of these.  Mark was the stereotypical jock/bully who began picking on John for no particular reason as soon as they met.  Sarah was the cheerleader-turned-nice, whatever that even means.  Sam was the cliché loner/geek.  This made them all seem more like cardboard cutouts than anything else.
Plot: ***** It started with the overused beginning of a kid moving to a new town and immediately (and sometimes simultaneously) getting picked on by the school bully for no particular reason and falling in love with the most popular girl.  You could take this beginning and stick it onto hundreds of other YA books and no one would ever know the difference.  Apart from that, though, the plot was, for me, the most enjoyable part of the book.  The Legacies themselves were interesting, as well as the entire premise of the coming alien invasion.  I liked John's journey to discover his powers, or "Legacies".  The storyline was unique, and kept moving at a solid pace, even if it was a tad predictable.  (How could someone NOT see the thing about Bernie, the dog, coming from a mile away?)

Uniqueness: ***** 
The main focus of the book, the developing of John's Legacies to fight the alien invasion, was unique and grabbed my attention.  Unfortunately, a large portion of the beginning of this book was weighed down by an opening that felt just like too many others I've read.  

Writing: ***** 
The writing wasn't bad, but I never got a sense of John's distinct voice, either.  Even though it was narrated in first person, I kept wanting the narration to sound more personal, and less generic.  And I found a typo.  Other than that, I have no other specific comments about the writing--I just know that something about it never clicked with me.

Nothing not already mentioned above.

Not-so-great: John: The bully who hated me and tried to beat me up at the beginning of the school year has just invited me to a party at his house.  Sounds like a great idea, right?  There is no way this could possibly go wrong.  Me: *slams head into wall repeatedly*

This book had some interesting aspects that I enjoyed, including its unique and exciting plot and a decent main character.  Unfortunately, it was weighed down by cardboard-cutout side characters, an unoriginal beginning, and writing that just never quite worked for me.  It contained too many stereotypes of teenagers.  It evens out to being an okay book overall, but I'm not sure if I'll read the sequels.

Similar Books: It features a teenage boy with powers, Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 or Touched.  It also reminds me of Infinity and Thirteen Days to Midnight.

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