Meg’s Review: The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore
I am someone who forms immediate attachments to characters. I bawl at the point of catharsis in every sports movie; I’d lived through all of their strife and am now irreversibly connected to the football player or the upcoming tennis star . Halfway through the first few chapters of The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo, I was so concerned for Mikael Blomkvist’s fate that I could hardly turn the page.
So it says something that, at the end of The Power of Six, I really couldn’t give a shit about a single character in the book.
(Well, no character other than Bernie Kosar, the shape shifting companion to John (aka Number Four). Although BK can take the form of any monster imaginable, he chooses to hang out in the form of a beagle. I can’t help but love him.)
The story basically picks up where I Am Number Four leaves off: John, his best friend Sam, and Number Six are on the run from the evil Mogadorians and the US government (which thinks they’re terrorists). As the story opens, the trio spends a great deal of time trying to figure out what to do, which makes for some pretty dull reading. But, as though Pittacus Lore (the pen name of James Frey and Jobie Hughes) realized the presence of the ever-increasing boredom factor, John’s first-person narrative is left off every two chapters or so to visit Marina, aka Number Seven, who lives in a convent in Spain. Still, as the word ‘convent’ might imply, the split narrative doesn’t actually help the boring part.
And the book had to really work at being dull. As both Marina and John scramble to figure out how to save themselves (and Earth, and Lorien, their home planet), there are almost as many explosions as there are chapters. But the long passages of battles felt more like action for action’s sake than an actual part of the plot. Because all of the Lorien aliens have ‘legacies’ like telekinesis and fire-pulse hands, there’s all kinds of cool special effects going on, but at some point they just get silly because they’re so overused. When the battle is over, there’s just a whole bunch of dead bad guys rather than a whole bunch of dead bad guys plus a new direction in plot.
The book clocked in at a slim 251 pages. On the one hand, that means the torture is fairly short-lived. On the other, is also means there’s almost nothing between the covers in the way of character development. But really, the characters are so one-dimensional that there isn’t much room for growth beyond, perhaps, Sarah’s character, who turns out to be a bit of a bitch. That fact does not bode well for the possible sequel film; besides Alex Pettyfer’s chest, Dianna Agron was the only redeeming factor in the first I am Number Four movie. The only other hint of development was the establishment of a rather strange love triangle between Sam, Six, and John–
–that is so unstable that there’s no real tension there, either.
The issues with the first novel are present here too. Pacing is pretty miserable; I didn’t actually get interested in the plot until around page 200 (oi, it’s a 251-page book), but even then I was skimming over never-ending battle scenes. I think that if the first and second books were condensed and combined, we’d have about 100 pages of a fairly fun narrative.
New problems arise as well. The split first-person narrative was particularly distracting. Because the characters are so flat and indistinct, it some times took me a while to realize who was talking. It was particularly bad in the last chapters when the narrative switched every few pages. I’m all for telling a story from different points of view, but you’ve gotta give the characters their voices, so I don’t have to leaf along, wondering who’s talking.
Normally, two bad books in a series would mean that I would swear the rest of the franchise off forever. But I’m hooked on the badness and the strangely straightforward nature of the narration (such as when, during a battle, John hops on the back of Bernie Kosar, who had turned into a tiger-ram monster, like it was no big thing at all.) that I’m probably in for the long-haul.
Plus, I can’t abandon Bernie Kosar now. I gotta know if the beagle makes it.