321 of 357 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Man, this book is seriously garnering heaps of exposure, what with its already having been optioned for a movie, this movie scheduled for a 2011 release. I AM NUMBER FOUR, which admittedly is an awesome title, is penned by someone named Pittacus Lore, who claims to be a ten thousand year old space alien seeking to warn us of hostile other aliens currently lurking in our midst. This is cute. Except that two folks named Jobie Hughes and James Frey are the actual authors.
The high stakes premise goes like this: Nine alien children have fled their annihilated homeworld of Lorien and have sought refuge on Earth. Having scattered to the winds, they are being hunted down, one by one, by a separate and malevolent extraterrestrial race from a dying planet. Thanks to a quasi-mystical protective charm placed on the Nine, they can only be killed in order (although, my bet is that Number One doesn't regard this charm as all that "protective"). As the book opens, three of the Nine have already been tracked down and murdered. So we come to Number Four.
His name used to be Daniel Jones. It used to be something else before that, and then something else before that, and so on. Ten years on Earth, ten years of hiding and staying always on the move and staying safe and alive... this is the life of Number Four and his guardian and mentor whose name is Henri (oddly, Henri's alien accent sounds very much like a French accent). Number Four has just collected a new scar circling his right ankle, this an indicator that another of the Nine has been recently slain. Three scarred rings around his ankle, and so Number Four knows he's next. And it's time to pack up the bags again, time again to get the eff out of Dodge.
Henri and Number Four - or "John Smith," his new assumed name - have always gravitated to tiny towns, conjecturing that their hunters would stick out more like sore thumbs in tiny towns. They end up in Paradise, Ohio. For John it's another try at blending in in school but without making friends, because no one can be trusted. Except that it's a little different this time. John Smith befriends a geeky kid who is a science-fiction enthusiast. He adopts a stray mutt named Bernie Kosar (and Bernie Kosar, by the way, is easily the book's breakout character). And John Smith also meets a girl. So much for staying on one's guard.
My first impression, while reading the first few pages of this book, was that this whole thing is very reminiscent of two short-lived television sci-fi shows: THE POWERS OF MATTHEW STAR from the early '80s and, more recently, ROSWELL. But then, pressing on, I guess it's inevitable that comparisons to the X-Men would surface. The Nine teens are holing up while waiting for their superhuman powers (called Legacies) to develop. These Legacies vary, and there's no guessing as to which abilities a Nine would latch up to. Number Four is at that age when his Legacies would shortly begin to crop up. And they do start cropping up, one by one, and there is a really fun factor in watching our sympathetic alien boy try to cope with each incoming talent.
Gratifyingly, the alien hunters from Mogadore aren't only downright intimidating, they seem even more powerful than the Nine and their guardians (and the guardians aren't at all equipped with superpowers). This drives up the suspense. What I AM NUMBER FOUR has going for it is its irresistible sci-fi/superhero premise and a pace that really moves. Number Four is a likable protagonist, although someone needs to explain to him the exact definition of keeping a low profile. After all, dude is supposed to be in hiding and fitting in. He really doesn't do much of either. None of the supporting cast break out of their stereotypical mold, and only the scene-stealing dog Bernie Kosar seems to be an original character. I will say that John's geeky pal Sam does come up with a touching reason for why he's such a sci-fi freak and why he wears those fugly prescription glasses. And as much as I dig Sarah, her and John Smith's teen romance feels like any other teen romance in YA lit. It comes in a nice, predictable package. Sarah is gorgeous and nice... and, well, bland. Another issue I have concerns a high school bully whose turnaround comes too abruptly. Perhaps the most intriguing element in the book concerns the mystery surrounding the very peculiar Bernie Kosar (see how I keep coming back to the dog?).
I AM NUMBER FOUR is the first book in a planned six-book series, and it reads very visual, especially in the explosive action sequences, and no wonder this is being made into a movie. Number Four performs bits of astounding derring-do throughout the book, but things get really amped up during the final 90 pages. It all culminates in one of those blistering "Release the Kraken!" Jim Butcher-type paranormal (except it's sci-fi) shoot-'em-outs. I can see why Bay and Spielberg are salivating so.
I liked this book, and will most definitely be thre when the sequels come out. But here's the thing, if you're hanging your hat on something that's on par with the likes of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games series or even Michael Grant's Gone novels, this won't suit you. I AM NUMBER FOUR isn't as immersing or resonant as those books. THE HUNGER GAMES made me well up in places. GONE reads like LORD OF THE FLIES as co-authored by Rod Serling and Stephen King. I AM NUMBER FOUR had me eating up all the "superhero without a costume" elements, and it's always nice when you can transfer yourself onto a central character who is superstrong and superfast and who won't back down from bullies. I did really like that a surprise character shows up very late in the book, and it looks like she'll be heavily featured in future installments. I'll give this one 4 stars out of 5, because I'm shallow like that and big, bold, f/x-heavy fighty fights never ever fail to transfix me. And because the dog Bernie Kosar is in it.
54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2011
I'm going to write this review while trying to grapple with the emotional conflict I Am Number Four left me with: disappointment and... well, I don't know a noun for 'bland shrugging'. I'm keeping this spoiler free as well.
Before I wrestle those demons, I want to start straight off and say that I saw the movie first. I had heard about the book from a few friends and wasn't interested. But, the movie previews looked reasonably enjoyable. I like action, explosions and super powers. Frankly, I was expecting two hours of mind numbing violence and cool chase scenes.
I liked the movie, despite it's abysmal reviews. It reminded me a bit of Xmen, a lot of Smallville and a touch of Jumper. That's a promising mix. There's some romance, but it's very light if not perfectly easy to ignore... which... is definitely a fault in its own right, but take it for what it is. After watching it, I decided I had to get the book. I could see potential, and since Hollywood is not often kind to YA book adaptations I gave the original the benefit of the doubt. I wanted a little more depth to the story and figured it would expand much further in text. They were all likable characters in the movie; I wanted to know more about them. I found the book on sale and took a leap of faith with my wallet instead of checking it out from the library. A red flag went off when I opened it and saw the page layout. The page numbers will tell you 440. I cannot describe how misleading this is unless you personally open the book and look at the margins. They are big enough to drive a whaling ship through them. Condensed, it probably would not push 250 pages. But, like I said, leap of faith and all.
Welcome to my demons.
This book is written by two different people and holy cow can you tell. The problem is that one writer is better than the other. Some of the chapters are so dry and brittle that I caught myself staring at the wall instead of reading. There is a minuscule (if any) amount of description or voice when these pieces of the books pop up. It's written with the power and dignity of a grocery list.
- I just entered a house.
- There is a couch.
- A girl was sitting on the couch.
- I hope Sara likes me.
- Golly Mark is a jerk.
This is NOT what I expected. I wanted expansion, not limitation. What goes on inside John's head? I dunno. Not very much apparently. The writing is so dry it's kind of disgusting. I wasn't expecting Stephen King or JK Rowling here, but something other than "the sky looked blue today. I'm wearing nike sneakers." would have sufficed. By the way, do you like the title of my review? I hope so. Because it's the direct line from I Am Number Four that broke me.
Author 2's parts of the book are much more... I loath to say "better", so let's go with "bearable"... because there's actual prose. John sometimes even has personality and emotions! Whoa! It wasn't fantastic, or even near an acceptable second draft, but it was better than reading the back of a cereal box, which is something I guess.
Most of it takes place in high school, centered around John acting out life as a typical kid (aside from flashlight hands). Do you remember very much from every day of school? No? That's because it's BORING. And it's going to stay BORING unless you tackle it from an interesting angle. Of which the authors, apparently, are incapable. This. Should. Be. Easy. The plot is about a teenager with developing superpowers who is on the run from murderous aliens. How do you mess that up? How? This story is derivative and needs strong characterization and confident writing to stay afloat. It's an honest shame it turned out how it did.
I'll end with admitting that I'm slightly off of the target audience list. I'm 20 and in college, and this is geared more towards jr high and high school. Regardless, I read a lot of YA books, and even when I was in middle school I would not be impressed by this wad of mediocre crap. The authors think their audience is stupid and can't handle depth or subtlety. That's all there is to it.
edit: While looking around the net for other I am Number Four reviews, I stumbled on something disturbing. James Frey (author of A Million Little Pieces, a supposed memoir where he lied about everything which, by the way, is the direct opposite of a memoir) is one of the two people who worked on it. By 'worked on it' I mean had someone else create the story and most of the writing and then not really give them credit or money (that someone was Jobie Hughes). Frey is currently running a so called young adult fiction machine; basically an assembly line made up of inexperienced, new writers who are so desperate for publishing that they'll consider his slimy hand. He wants to mass produce the "next Harry Potter", as he so lovingly put it. I don't freaking think so, buddy.
If you google "james frey full fathom five" you'll dig up plenty of information on it, including a ridiculous contract. I advise you to stay away from this venomous predator and his line of commercialized desperation.
42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition with Audio/Video
In the not so distant past I worked at a few book stores. A problem I ran into frequently was finding books for teen boys. The YA market is flooded with books meant solely for girls. Boys have always been a harder sell when it comes to reading and publishers haven't made it an easier job, especially when they have flooded the teen market with paranormal romance.
So recommendations for teen boys often meant I would recommend The Hunger Games. Unfortunately many guys aren't too keen on reading a book in which the main character is a girl, no matter how good the story is. So after going through the other 5 or 6 good teen guy books I could think of I would often recommend a book in the general fiction and literature section, but parents often fear that their children will encounter questionable subject matter. Which they may, but they should also remember many of the books their children read in school are found in the fiction and literature not the teen section.
I found "I am Number Four" to be a great action adventure, that followed the traditional hero archetype. The main character, number Four or John Smith, is as relatable as a alien teenager on the run can be. The surrounding cast of characters rounds out this alien boys average existence, Henri, his alien guardian/father figure, Sam, his nerdy best friend, Sarah, his crush, and Mark, a bully and Sarah's ex. The story is a super power driven action packed adventure, filled with all the tender feelings and angst that a every teenager has.
It was a quick read. I got through it in about a day and a half. I would recommend this book for anyone over the age of 13. I hope that the quick success of this book will bring about a revamp of the YA publishing field and allow for more guy teen fiction or fiction that can cross gender lines. Anyone that truly enjoyed this book should read The Hunger Games. I can't wait to see the film and read the rest of the series. Happy reading to you all.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Before anything is said on this product, I would just like to point out that there was a previous collection of three short stories called I Am Number Four: The Lost Files. This is sort of the sequel to that. What it contains is three short stories called The Search For Sam, The Last Days of Lorien, and The Forgotten Ones. The Search for Sam and The Forgotten Ones are the continued story of Adamus Sutekh, a Mogardian whose story began in The Forgotten Legacies in I Am Number Four: The Lost Files. Long story short, he has all of Number One's memories and as a result, he's become sympathetic to the Lorics. Anyway, he was thrown off a cliff trying to save Number Three, and now he's trying to live a normal life away from aliens. All I'm going to say is, that doesn't last long. The Last Days of Lorien is a prequel to the whole series; it tells the story of Sandor, Nine's Cépan (mentor), living on Lorien before it was destroyed.
So is this worth buying? First off, each short story is roughly the length of a third of a normal book. Secondly, I thoroughly enjoyed all three stories. (And by the way, it also contains the first chapter of The Fall of Five, which has not yet come out at the time of this writing.) Finally, it's an excellent addition to the series, and is solely quality story-telling, unlike Rick Riordan's Lost Files, which contain puzzles and frills that are unnecessary (in my opinion.)
In conclusion: I bought it, and if you enjoy this series, I would recommend buying this. It's only nine bucks, and you've probably wasted more on things not as enjoyable.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The Lorien Legacies is one of the greatest series ever created in the history of books! Each novel in the installment is just beautifully written. All the characters will capture your attention. The storylines are freaking amazing. And the action-packed sequences will keep you reading until the very end!
True, each story is small and could have been bigger in their own way, but when you put three of those mini-stories in one volume, then you get your very own "spin-off" story set! The three stories of this book, "The Search for Sam", "The Last Days of Lorien", and "The Forgotten Ones", are about characters who play huge role for the main series. It tells about people who were "behind the scenes" and what they have went through. The stories themselves are almost like "origins" about how these certain characters began and how they fought to survive.
These "Lost Files" give us the answers to the questions that cannot be fully explained in the main series, allowing us to get the bigger picture of how things are on the sidelines. You will love every moment of these stories!
First off, we have poor Mogadorian, Adamus Sutekh, who has lived a tough life with his "control-freak" father and "over-achieving" family. He witnesses the death of Number One and is later plugged into the brain of One herself (if you read the "Fallen Legacies" that is) and then forced to deal with One throughout his coma, where he learns a few life-lessons along the way and ends up switching sides for the Garde. From that moment, he tries to prevent Two and Three's deaths, but fails and ends up betrayed by his own kind. Left for dead, our Mogadorian hero finds himself on more adventures in two of these stories that are presented in this "Lost Files", "The Search for Sam" and "The Forgotten Ones". Trust me, you will love this new hero, even if he is a Mogadorian. You will also love the relationship between him and One (spiritually anyway). Not to mention that "The Forgotten Ones" will lead directly into the fifth novel that is coming out soon.
And secondly, we have Number Nine's Cepan, Sandor, who we last saw in "Nine's Legacy" (and sadly died). But this time, we find ourselves in the past, back on Lorien (before it is destroyed). Instead of "Mr. Wise Cepan", we see a whole new Sandor on Lorien. He is rebellious and very awesome at breaking into things. We learn his story in "The Last Days of Lorien" and also about the destruction of Lorien through his eyes. Not only that, we also get a few appearances from a few "certain" characters who have appeared in the main series. So be on the look out, you may find them. And yes, you will also get to see how Nine and Sandor meet. I won't reveal anymore as it is way better to read than to tell big time "spoilers".
Trust me, you love this! Buy the book and read these people's stories! They will explain everything (well, almost everything)! But seriously, they do such a beautiful job at staying true to the main series!
202 of 262 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Wow, this book has a great concept. Nine children come to earth from a war ravaged planet, the last of their people, and they are seeking to hide amongst us until they come of age so they can come into their 'legacies' and kick some bad-guy fanny. The driving essence of the plot is that the kids are being hunted one-by-one by the bad guys who can only kill them in numeric order. And our hero, John, is #4 and #3 just got snuffed.
The fact that there's already a movie shooting didn't hurt my expectations either. I was smiling cheerfully until I got four chapters into the book. Then it occurred to me that The Movie probably came first and that the book was just something thrown together by people who aren't all that familiar with how good YA (young adult) literature is these days.
Good idea or not, "I am Number Four" has flat characters and utter predictability. There's also almost no descriptive writing -- like you'd find in a movie script. Not that you need much help to envision 'Mark' the smalltown, football star/bully who is jealous that John is now dating his beautiful ex-cheerleader girlfriend. (And yes, she's very blonde, smart, and has a beautiful eyes.)
"I notice a girl taking pictures, moving easily from one group to the next. She's shockingly beautiful with straight blond hair past her shoulders, ivory skin, high cheekbones, and soft blue eyes. Everyone seems to know her and says hello to her, and no one objects to her taking their pictures.
"She sees me, smiles and waves. I wonder why and turn to see if someone is behind me....
"'Don't be shy.'
"'I'm not. Just trying to protect you lens. My face might break it."
I read a lot of YA, MG (Middle-grade) and kidlit, and this book doesn't compare well to "Hunger Games", Percy Jackson, or Mo Willems.
Except for the plentiful scenes with kissing and the one (two?) moments when something interesting might have happened had-they-not-been-interrupted, this book would be perfect for Older Elementary aged kids[AR 4.0] and Middle-schoolers looking for a fun read.
Personally, I think YA'ers would be better off reading "Split" or "Mockingjay" or re-reading something they loved.
Middle-graders would better be directed to Gary Paulsen, "The Red Pyramid", or "Smells Like Dog". Something with adventure or humor or both if they are looking for a lighter read.
Reading level - 4th Grade
mom and blogger
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2011
What can I say after reading this? I read it in preparation for the movie: it actually convinced me not to see it.
Classic story of special children who are the only ones who can save the day. Archetypal love interest, perfect, sweet, flawless, and charitable. Typical moody, brooding hero with amazing powers. Bland humanoid alien enemies (because all aliens in the universe are carbon-based humanoids who walk on two legs, breathe air, and use alien technology that's no different than human technology but is somehow inexplicably better.) Comical underdog sidekick. And, of course, a rehashed plot that's been used in many fascinating ways by other authors - but not by this one.
Is it original? No. Will you walk away learning anything about life? Don't hold your breath. Is it entertaining? Yes, though mildly.
Do yourself a favor: if you want to read this, then by all means do so, but get it from your local library because it's not worth the production costs let alone your hard-earned money.
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
There are so many things wrong with this book that it's hard to decide where to start. Let's begin with the Author's obvious pen name Pittacus Lore which is a character within the mythology the author is trying to create. Well, not exactly a character... at least not in book 1. Pittacus gets little more than a passing mention as being some famous sage within Lorien society.
That alone is strange since the story is a first person narrative told from the point of view of John. So why didn't the Author use John's name as his pen name?
Anyway, that's kind of nitpicky.
Looking beyond that I can imagine the proposal for this book sounded pretty good. Nine alien children fleeing a besieged world head to Earth in order to hide from the evil forces of another alien race. To ensure their safety they scatter to the four corners of the globe and will remain invulnerable to their enemies attacks... unless they are killed in numerical order.
Yeah, that last part got me too. Especially when the extent of this invulnerability charm was explained by the author. This is where a huge plot hold is explained which opens up some minor spoilerage. You see, the kids remain invulnerable unless the child whose number falls before theirs is killed OR any two ore more of the children are brought together.
See the problem? The ridiculously named bad guys (Mogodorians) have to either kill these young children from #1 (who, unfortunately is never invulnerable since he/she is the first.. which pretty much sucks) to #2 all the way to #9 which is, to put it bluntly, ridiculous as a plot device... OR they grab kid #1 and hold the little rugrat hostage until they find #2 and then throw the two of them in the same room. BANG! No more invulnerability for any of the 9 kids and the Mogodorians can simply kill them while they are powerless elementary age children.
No effort is made to explain the ridiculously contrived 'Charm' that is supposed to ensure their survival nor is any explaination given as to how the Mogodorians know anything about it.
The rest is just amateurish writing across the board, infrequent and poorly choreographed "Action" scenes, no character development what-so-ever (you can find better an more in-depth character development in the old Choose Your Own Adventure books), setting descriptions with no real detail...
Regardless, this book should never have been published. It reads like a rough draft that hasn't seen an editor or even been reread by the author. It's terrible. Finding out that the "Author" of the book is also James Frey as part of some scam he's devised makes a lot of sense though.
172 of 230 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2011
It's rare that I review a book before finishing it, but at this rate I doubt that I ever will. As forewarning, my review is pretty harsh, but this is my honest reaction to the book.
Of all the books I've ever read, this is the worst. The writing is atrocious - the reader is consistently told who these characters are and what is happening in the most colourless language possible. Parts of the description are actually laughable.
"We go inside and she takes me on a tour. It's a great house. A classic family home with bedrooms on the second floor, an attic where one of her brothers has his room, and all of the living spaces - the living room, dining room, kitchen and family room - on the first floor." This example pretty much follows throughout the entire book - we are given bland, generic treatments of everything from setting to characters - things that tell us NOTHING about them. An actual description of the house in terms of its decor, style, what sorts of things the family keeps, might have given us an idea about Sarah's character and her family, but it seems the author goes out of their way to keep everyone, including the main character, as anonymous silhouettes with no tangible identity. It's a great house because it has bedrooms an attic and living areas? I suppose every house is pretty spiffy then.
I thought perhaps the plot would save this train wreck, but I was sorely disappointed. A premise that promised suspense, sci fi and break-neck pacing managed to peter out after a single chapter. Despite the fact John is being hunted by a savage alien race - and his death is imminent, as he's next on the chopping block, for 200 pages of exposition not a single alien has shown up, nor any significant sign of danger. Instead we're hand-fed a crudely spun romance between John and Sarah - a girl we are told is beautiful, blonde and intelligent (over and over again) but who has less personality than an elastic band. Every interaction between these two characters is less interesting than the last. They walk, they hold hands, they kiss. Rinse and repeat. Beyond her apparent good looks, we're never given an idea of what he sees in her, or her in him. Yet (much later) on page 250 after a near escape from Mogadorians (which somehow also managed to be just as boring as the happy couple's dates), we're asked to believe that John and Henri will now risk their lives and (potentially) the lives of their entire race by staying put so John can continue to kiss his girlfriend. Gag me.
For a story about aliens this sure lacks anything alien. So far this is a mundane high school romance - as cliched as they come. John behaves like a regular human boy, except that he has flash light hands and telekinesis. 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 an alien - so to him wouldn't some human customs seem strange? Guess not...
Most fanfiction authors could claim to have written a more honest, heartfelt story. At this point I'm convinced it was written solely to hype up the movie. I'm extremely put off - I was told this would be as good as The Hunger Games. That is an insulting comparison. Do yourself a favour: either get it from the library or just watch the movie, but certainly don't spend money on this book.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2010
I bought this book based on a review that said it had great character development, something missing from a lot of YA books. Nope. Now I wish I'd checked it out of the library. Or maybe just waited for the movie that's coming out in February 2011.
I agree with another reviewer that the book felt like a tie-in product for the movie, a way to make more money by selling both books and tickets. I don't get the feeling "I Am Number Four" was written because an author had a really great story he loved and wanted to tell. More likely, it was written to hype an upcoming movie.
I still don't know a whole lot about the main character, John Smith, and even less about his love interest, Sarah Hart. (Heck, I don't even know what John looks like.)
In the beginning, I was really pleased to read a first person book from a teenage guy's POV that actually sounded like a guy. But I was expecting more dramatic near misses with John and his pursuers, and there weren't many. There wasn't much tension at all, really. John's number is up, he's being stalked by otherworldly killers, and still I never felt too concerned about him. John wasn't overly worried either. He was mostly concerned about staying in Paradise, Ohio, in large part so he could be with Sarah...who we know absolutely nothing about. Sure, she's blonde, she has blue eyes, and she likes photography. And in a matter of days, John is ready to stop running from the Mogadorians who are killing off the Legacies in numerical order, put down roots to be near her and endanger his life and the life of his mentor Henri (called a Cepan). I needed more to buy into a love that strong...more interaction, more conversations, more something between John and Sarah.
There were a few scenes that served only to move the plot along and weren't really organic to the story. Example: We're told John can run faster than a car. So why did he and his best friend, Sam (who just happens to be an alien enthusiast with a missing dad he believes was abducted) drive to another town to investigate Henri's disappearance? Why would John involve Sam at all in what he thinks will be a dangerous mission? After all, John's got superhuman strength and other powers, so he doesn't need help getting Henri back. It seemed Sam went along only so he could end up in danger (naturally) and John would have to use his awesome alien strength and levitating ability to rescue him, thus revealing to his friend in a dramatic way that he is not a human.
Some of the dialogue and wording were awkward and took me out of the story. Teenagers don't say "perhaps" at the beginning of sentences, or at least the ones I know don't. What does it mean if someone looks at you "through the tops of her eyes"? And one of the authors --Pittacus Lore is a pseudonym for James Frey and Jobie Hughes-- is a big fan of the word "segue" because it showed up often enough to be noticeable. And my last word gripe: "Vertiginous" isn't a common word, and this wasn't a book with a lot of difficult vocabulary, so when this bad boy popped up during a key battle scene, I had to stop and figure out what it meant. Speaking of the big battle, it went on far too long, like a lot of action sequences in movies tend to do.
This wasn't a terrible book, just one that needed better editing and to be thought out a little more. There are some questions left open that I'd like to know the answer to...What exactly is in The Chest? What happened to Sam's dad? What became of the other Lorien ship John remembers from his flashbacks? Will we meet the remaining Legacies?(Number Six showing up was a nice little twist, and I'd like to know more about her.) What is John's greatest Legacy going to be? I'd like to know the answers, so the book did keep me interested...but I might just wait for the movies instead of reading future books.