Book review: I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

I seem to be on a bit of an adventure kick lately with my books, so I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore was the perfect read.

John Smith and his guardian Henri move from place to place, changing their identity as they go. They’re trying to stay one step ahead of the Mogadorians, an evil alien race race intent on hunting them down and killing them – because John and Henri are some of the last survivors from the planet Lorien, which the Mogadorians destroyed years ago.

John, or Number Four, is the fourth of nine children sent to earth in the hopes that one day they could return to Lorien and rebuild it. John is safe, sort of, because Numbers One through Three need to be killed before the Mogadorians can kill him. That time has now come.

Henri and John settle in a small town called Paradise, Ohio, where John begins to make friends (the geeky, alien-obsessed Sam), enemies (footballer Mark), and fall in love (gorgeous Sarah). But what happens when the Mogadorians begin to close in?

I Am Number Four is great reading, and relentlessly builds to its giant climax – an all out fight between the Mogadorians and John. It’s huge battle scenes are easy to read and picture, and had me holding my breath in anticipation – I never believed anyone could survive. And the flashbacks to the battle on Lorien are devestating, as John watches his planet being detroyed bit by bit.

But for all its loud moments, it’s the more “human” ones that make I Am Number Four such a good read. John’s interactions with his classmates are shot through with the realism of being the new kid in school. And the emergence of John’s powers – his Legacies – might hold a supernatural element, but they’re also a metaphor for growing pains.

The relationships in I Am Number Four are key to the narrative. John’s first experience of love is moving, and makes the ending of the novel more heartbreaking, his friendship with Sam is infused with loyalty, and his relationship with his dog Bernie Kosar is full of good humour. But it’s John’s relationship with Henri that is my favourite in the book. It’s both a father/son dynamic, but also something otherworldly. Henri is John’s protector, and has sacrificed a huge amount to make sure John is safe. That deep bond is clear to see in the book, whether it’s through Henri’s words to John or his actions, or even his appearance, which is so clearly described.

I Am Number Four is the first in a series by Pittacus Lore – the alter ego of authors James Frey and Jobie Hughes. Their clever marketing – Pittacus is a Lorien elder – adds an interesting dimension to the storytelling, which is entertaining and addictive.

How I got this book: I bought it

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