Review: I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies 01) by Pittacus Lore

· Reading level: Young Adult ( Middle-grade)
· Hardcover: 448 pages
· Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (August 3, 2010)
· Language: English
· ISBN-10: 9780061969553
· ISBN-13: 978-0061969553

I got this book in a digital form courtesy of my friend pchłaszachrajka – thanks a lot!


It is a first person narrative about an alien boy sent to the Earth after his planet, beautiful and rich Lorien, was destroyed by hordes of ugly, greedy, cunning Mogadorians. There used to be Nine of them, children of the most powerful Loric families, with just a number instead a proper name and a guardian for company. They were hidden until they developed their powers, called Legacies, enabling them to defeat Mogadorian beasts and revive Lorien. A protective charm was placed to help them survive -they can only be killed in order. The Mogadorians are following them, though. They have found and killed three first kids (and their guardians). They are in a hurry to kill the rest too before they become strong enough to fight back.

All Nine are interconnected – if any of them is killed the rest get a kind of scar ring on their leg. After the third kill Number Four, bearing the name of “John Smith,” hides in Paradise, OH. His name used to be Daniel Jones. It used to be something else before that, and then something else before that. He is tired of these changes but he has no choice – he is next on Mogadorians’ ‘to kill’ list so his guardian and mentor, Henri, takes no chances and makes him move once again.

It’s a little different this time. Soon enough John Smith befriends a geeky kid who is a science-fiction enthusiast (his first real friend ever) and falls in love with Sarah, the prettiest girl in the whole school (his first real date ever). He also adopts, or rather is adopted by, a stray dog named Bernie Kosar (yeah, you guessed it right- the first pet ever). His Legacies start developing one by one. It can mean only one thing – the real war with Mogadorians might start any day now. Not to mention a scuffle or two with a band of local bullies as one of them fancies beautiful Sarah too. Who will survive and at what price?

What I liked:

This book uses a great idea and has some action, especially at the end. With its interesting premises and a fast-pace telling, the story can grab and hold readers but only those who are willing to suspend quite a bit of disbelief. Bernie Kosar, the lovely beagle, is easily the book’s breakout character by the way. Dogs are incredible creatures!

What I didn’t like:

Right now I should be dressed up as one of these ugly, red-eyed Mogadorian monsters with a muzzle full of big teeth, dripping drool and blood. I solemnly swear I am up to no good.

My first impression, was that the book was very reminiscent of ‘Superman’ from the early ’80s and, more recently, ROSWELL. When I finished it the comparisons to the X-Men surfaced too. In other words there is not even one shred of originality. A planet called ‘Lorien’? Wait a minute – didn’t we hear this name before? Of course LOTR and Galadriel…

I AM NUMBER FOUR is penned by two men – Jobie Hughes and James Frey. It seems both of them got ahead of themselves in writing for a movie-type audience. The movie might or might not be a sensation when the Dreamworks adaptation of this book is released in 2011 starring Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant and Dianna Agron. The book, however, is truly horrible – cliché, predictable, dumb and simplistic.

The concept is very similar to the Twilight series – there is the same stereotype mix of school kids – one outsider (a handsome alien with superpowers), one cute girl who falls in love with outsider for no apparent reason (well, he is special and handsome) , one jock who similarly hates outsider for equally no apparent reason and a geek who likes outsider for…. well you’ve guessed it.

The writing style cannot be even compared to Twilight – it is devoid of any complexity or writing skills or interesting vocabulary. Nothing is vivid, or picturesque, it all just feels so artificial, just like those silly rubbery sci-fi costumes. It reads like a bad movie script.

The characters all fell very flat, including John Smith (Number 4), which is weird since the story was written from his point of view (you think you’d get a better idea of who he is and actually understand and connect to him). Someone (like a good editor) needs to explain to John the exact definition of keeping a low profile. After all, dude, if you are supposed to be in hiding and blending in you can’t pick fights and impress your mates showing off your extra abilities. The fate of the whole planet (or maybe even two planets) depends on it. Is such a motivation not enough?

Plenty of things don’t make sense. What kind of protective charm is it if it protects one kids (like Number Nine) better and other kids (like Number One) almost not at all? Why, despite the fact that John and his mentor are being hunted by a savage alien race (and their death is imminent) the boy becomes so involved in a crudely spun romance with Sarah – a girl we are told over and over again is beautiful, blonde and intelligent (but who has less personality than an elastic band)? Doesn’t he have anything better to do? Martial Arts? Hare and hounds? The dates of John and Sarah are TRULY boring; after a while I really yearned for an ugly alien starting killing people right, left and centre. Ok, I admit it, even a vampire would do. Once again let me remind here Bella from Twilight, admiring the beauty and sparkle of her Edward every second page or so until the reader feels pretty nauseous – urgh!

Finally, there is so little to hint at the behaviours, customs, culture and lifestyles of the race these two main characters embody. We’re supposed to be reading this through the eyes of a perfect alien – so  wouldn’t some human customs seem strange to him? Doesn’t he ponder on human frailties and vices from time to time? Guess not…thinking can bring bad headaches – the last ailment a superhero would like to have.

To sum up those who like their science fiction with a bit more science and internal logic, will have to search elsewhere.

Final verdict:

Most fanfiction authors could claim to have written a more complex, heartfelt story. At this point I’m convinced the book was written solely to earn a bit more money before the movie is out. I’m extremely put off – I’ve heard this would be as good as The Hunger Games. What an insulting comparison! Do yourself a favour: don’t spend money on this book. If you are really interested either get it from the library or just wait a bit and watch the movie. In other words…

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16 Responses to Review: I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies 01) by Pittacus Lore

  1. Tracy says:

    Last time I was in Waterstones a week ago I noticed they had three different versions of this book! Guess the publisher is expecting the movie to really push sales. But not to me. I did briefly consider whether it would appeal to my daughter, but decided it wouldn't – and having read your review, I'm glad I wasn't tempted by the hype.

  2. Lol! This review made me laugh. The romance was annoying. I am curious as to why John doesn't seem more alien. The next book will be written from a girl's perspective. So maybe we will see more reflection on alien culture.

  3. Blodeuedd says:

    I do not want to read it cos of the controversy I heard that that one guy wrote it, and got nothing since Frey owned the rights or whatever.And since it seems to suck too, then no way, bye bye book 😉

  4. anachronist says:

    Tracy your instinct was good and you spared your daughter a very nasty surprise!Brooke I am glad you laughed but I doubt the second book will be any better. It would be a miracle.

  5. anachronist says:

    Blodeuedd a sensible decision; I didn't know about the controversy but it sounds ugly.

  6. Hm… I'm still wondering if I should see the movie. It does have me curious at least that much. Sometimes they change the movie just enough so that it isn't as bad as the book. Sometimes (rare, but sometimes) the movie is better than the book. Here's hoping!

  7. anachronist says:

    Melissa we might wait and read some reviews before watching it. I definitely don't discourage anybody from seeing it and I truly believe it might be better. The book was a flop though.

  8. I'll be honest, I probably wasn't ever going to pick up this book because of the Frey Factory controversy, but seeing actual glowing reviews around the blogosphere did make me a little curious. Thanks for the honest (and hilarious) review! You've saved me from possibly caving due to that interest!

  9. I too am against picking up this book due to the flaboggle going on. It is hard to support a book when the the industry doesn't support the author.Although, it seems they are saving me from a fail. I thank them and u for that!Mad Scientist

  10. anachronist says:

    Larwal I am pleased to hear you found my review amusing! I must find out more about the controversy surrounding this book. Mad Scientist the pleasure is mine! Thanks for being my next follower and welcome on board!ETA: The things I found out about Mr Frey are indeed very controversial. Look at this excerpt of the agreement one of his potential writers was presented with:“You’re going to write for me. I’m going to own it. I may or may not give you credit. If there is more than one book in the series, you are on the hook to write those too, for the exact same terms, but I don’t have to use you. In exchange for this, I’m going to pay you 40 percent of some amount you can’t verify — there’s no audit provision — and after the deduction of a whole bunch of expenses.”What a cheek!

  11. Rowenna says:

    Sorry this was such a dud–but hey, you got a great hilarious review out of it! That's worth something 🙂

  12. anachronist says:

    Rowenna it is very true. Bad books happen, reading an unknown novel is often a hit-or-miss business but at least there is some fun in writing a bad review! ;p

  13. Okay, so your review, rocked. I'm definitely not going to read this book. The only reason I was thinking of it was because of the movie (which I haven't seen). In view of the comments to this post though, I had to go look up the Frey debate and I simply cannot believe what is going on. I don't think I will be watching the movie for the pure reason that Mr. Frey sounds like a total jerk off and he does not deserve any portion of my time and/or money. I'm also giving him the digital finger as we speak. Loved your post anachronist! Thanks for enlightening me onto this particular topic.JenIn the Closet With a Bibliophile

  14. anachronist says:

    Jen thanks a lot – your reviews are even better!Mr. Frey seems to be sure nothing is able to put people off as long as he produces 'nice stories'. I don't believe in 'writing factories, especially as brutal and Dickensian as this one. I am not going to review any of "his" books or/and movies based on them. I really doubt I would bother so watch them in the first place.

  15. Demitria says:

    I liked it…but I'm not a book reviewer. I definitely see all your points, especially about the protective charm. I'd hate to be Number One…you basically have no chance.

  16. anachronist says:

    I hate the lack of internal logic in a book, especially a sci-fi book – I suppose it would be my major complaint. Of course you are very welcome to like it. 😉

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