Meg’s Review: I Am Number Four
Pittacus Lore — I Am Number Four
The only reason I picked up I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore was because the guy in the trailer for the movie was really hot. But as saying, “I’m going to see a movie because the star is hot” seemed like a shallow approach, I grabbed the book to build a stronger defense. Terrible plan, as it turned out.
I Am Number Four is a young adult scifi thriller with an interesting premise. Number Four is one of the last surviving members of an alien species whose home planet was destroyed by invaders. He and his fellow refugees (1-9) are hiding out on Earth, biding their time until they can take back their planet. However, the invaders followed them to Earth and are systematically hunting the survivors down in numerical order. As the book opens, Number Four realizes that Number Three has died, meaning his number is literally up (har).
Sounds interesting. And it would be if the authors, James Frey (A Million Little Pieces) and Jobie Hughes working under the pen name Pittacus Lore, actually stuck to that plot summary. Instead, they somehow managed to flip plot and subplot. Instead of being driven by an alien cat-and-mouse hunt, the pages are filled with Number Four’s foray into teenage hormones. He meets a girl, fights off a bully, befriends a nerd, and has some severe growing pains as he comes into his powers that make him flawlessly invincible. And with a clumsy handling of the first person point of view, it reads more like a book written by a teenager instead of for a teenager.
Over all, the main flaw of I Am Number Four is pacing. It has interesting characters (though they do suffer a bit from perfectionism. Where is the flaw in the super-powered alien or the effortlessly beautiful girlfriend? I think they might be angling for ‘I’m in love’ to be a flaw, but it’s a weak connection if that’s the case.) and a universe that the writers clearly know well. But the alien invaders don’t even show up until the very end of the novel, leaving the reader with a finish that is begging for a sequel. It likely would have made for a better read to simply condense the first book into about 100 pages and keep going instead of dragging out the idea across (at least) two books. That said, the ending was good enough to make me consider picking up the inevitable sequel. But only if it moves a heck of a lot faster than this one.
In the end, I rewatched the trailer for the movie to see whether I still wanted to see it given how mediocre the book was. Yep. The actor is still hot enough.