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I Am Number Four

Review

I Am Number Four

John Smith has assumed numerous identities since arriving on Earth at age five. He is one of nine Loriens who fled his home planet after the Mogadorians invaded and destroyed everything in sight. The group is accompanied by guardians that secure safe living conditions and help them develop legacies, or special powers, that will one day help them defeat the Mogadorians and return home. The Loriens have scattered, assimilated themselves into the culture, and are protected by a special charm. As long as this continues to be the case, the Mogadorians can only kill them in the order of their numbers. The first three are dead. John Smith is number four. 

Each time a Lorien dies, a small circular scar appears on the right ankle of those still alive. John received the third one at age 14, and his guardian, Henri, packed everything up and moved himself and John to a small, sleepy town in Ohio, their 22nd move. John is used to picking up and leaving in a moment’s notice, but it’s becoming increasingly harder for him to leave friends behind and live a transient lifestyle. Just once he wishes he could tell the people around him who and what he truly is. Henri, on the other hand, is waiting impatiently for John to develop his legacies in hopes of someday returning to Lorien.

At first, John handles yet another new school with the usual approach: lay low, stay out of people’s ways, and don’t get too close to anyone. When the star football player, Mark Jayne, starts bullying him on the first day, though, John decides he’s not going to put up with it, no matter what kind of attention he attracts. As John stands up to Mark, strange things begin to happen. A soft glow starts emanating from his palms, and it won’t go away. Freaked out, John rushes home to Henri and soon learns that, at last, he is beginning to develop his legacies.

Over the next few months, John divides his time between developing his legacies and going to school. Not only does he possess super human strength and speed, he also eventually learns he is immune to fire and that he can move things with his mind. For the first time ever, he has managed to establish relationships with other students. His best friend is an alien theorist named Sam, who spends his time obsessing over alien conspiracies and has no idea that John is more than he seems. John has also fallen head-over-heels in love with Sarah Harte, with whom he is desperate to share his secret.

Small town life has finally put John and Henri at ease, and they let themselves become too comfortable with their surroundings. When Sarah’s life is put in danger, John has no choice but to reveal his special powers to save her. The Mogadorians have been watching and waiting for such a moment, and they won’t let this opportunity pass them by.

I AM NUMBER FOUR combines all the elements of a successful science fiction novel. There is the folklore that accompanies the mysterious Lorien and Mogadorian species, the supernatural legacies the Loriens possess, and the fact that the fate of humanity is tied to the success or defeat of the nine. The book has been the subject of much fanfare as a movie based on it has already been shot and is scheduled to be released in February. This is the first installment in a proposed series, and it remains to be seen whether or not the remaining six Loriens will survive. 

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on August 3, 2010

I Am Number Four
(Lorien Legacies #1)
by Pittacus Lore

  • Publication Date: August 23, 2011
  • Genres: Science Fiction
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0061969575
  • ISBN-13: 9780061969577