In the beginning we were nine. We left when we were very young, almost too young to remember. Almost. And now . . . Three are gone. We are here to keep our race alive, which was almost entirely obliterated. We’re just trying to survive. Six are left. But we are hunted, and the hunters won’t stop until they’ve killed us all. They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. I am Number Four. I know that I am next.
There is a lot of hype surrounding I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore. So much so, that it made me a little reluctant to read it straight away. I wasn't sure what to make of it going in, I figured it would be a fun and fast-moving adventure story... And it was. Sadly, while I didn't dislike it, I didn't love it either. If I was just focusing on the actual plot than I'd say I quite enjoyed all the action. But the simplistic writing style and lack of character depth made it fall a little flat for me.
It's the story of John Smith and his guardian, Henri. They've been on Earth for the past 10 years. They are both alien refugees from a planet called Lorien that was destroyed by another alien race, the Mogodorians. Before the planet died, the Loriens sent 9 children to Earth in the hopes that these children will grow special powers to fight back against the Mogodorians and then repopulate their destroyed planet. The saved children can only die in a particular order, from 1 to 9 and John Smith, our hero is (obviously) number four.
So John Smith (Number Four) and his guardian Henri don't stay in one place very often, choosing small towns and made-up names in order to stay under the radar. This time, they're in Paradise, Ohio and John enrolls in high school. Only to fall for the prettiest girl in school and become the enemy of her ex-boyfriend. He also befriends, Sam, an alien-enthusiast and it sets off this weird and fun series of events where the action just didn't seem to stop. There's hay-rides and super-powers and alien magazines and fight scenes with other humans! with Mogodorians! with beasts of enormous size!
I had a lot of fun reading about the alien escapades, but it all felt very movie-like to me. Everything was described as though it was different scenes of a movie. It didn't seem to have the same type of flow for a novel, but felt like a meatier screenplay. And while some scenes between John and Sarah were rather sweet, I didn't care very much about their relationship throughout the book, everything was a bit of a cliche and I didn't feel like anything new was brought to the table. And while I felt that John's newfound alien powers to be quite cool, it also felt like things came rather easily at the same time.
For me, the saving grace of the book was this relationship between John with Henri. As a guardian/father figure, Henri was portrayed very well and it was very obvious how much the two relied and cared for each other. Towards the end, during the huge climatic ending, I even shed a tear.
I Am Number Four was a fun book to read, I can see that it will make an excellent blockbuster-type movie, but as a book it was only just OK.