I Am Number Four

September 2011 Kirra Rohan

John Smith has probably lived in more places than you ever will in your life. Never staying longer than nine months in any one area, he and his Cêpan (think Keeper/Guardian) Henri have traveled all over the United States in search of small towns to live in- and for good reason. John is one of the six Loriens left on Earth… and the next in line to be killed.

I Am Number Four, written under the pseudonym Pittacus Lore, is just what it seems- the biography of Number Four, currently known as John Smith. John is one of the nine Lorien children that were sent from Lorien to Earth with their Cêpans as the Mogadorians were destroying Lorien. John does not know where the other nine children are or what they look like- all he knows is when they are murdered by the Mogadorians that have traveled to Earth to hunt these last few down. However, the children of Lorien do have an advantage over the Mogadorians- they can only be killed in order. If a Mogadorian tries to kill one of the children out of order (for example, killing Number Six before Number Five), they will end up dying instead. Yet this only works as long as the Loric children stay apart from one another. The minute they meet, the ‘spell’ is broken. The children know when the ones before them have died because of a circular scar that appears around their right ankle at the moment of death.

The third scar has just appeared. Number Three has just been killed.

John is Number Four.

And this is where the story begins.

He and Henri quickly pack up and move out of their sunny town in Florida to Paradise, Ohio. Like always, John’s main goal is to remain invisible. Unfortunately for him, that doesn’t happen. From getting in a fight to falling for a girl, his first day at his new school leaves him about as conspicuous as you can get. The next few days are no better, with John developing his first Legacy*. Henri argues that they should move on, but this time John is firm- they’re staying in Paradise. With the Mogadorians actively searching for him, there’s only so much attention he can get before these evil aliens start to close in…

From the get-go, I Am Number Four is an action-packed science fiction adventure that can be enjoyed by both genders, as well as a wide variety of ages- from about middle school on. It’s a nice easy read that can be finished in a day or two, and I’d recommend it for anyone who is willing to suspend disbelief for a little bit to be taken on a thrilling adventure.

That being said, there were a few things about this book that I didn’t particularly enjoy. I was wary from the beginning, because the prologue was written in present tense, a choice I tend not to agree with. Nevertheless, the use of present tense did add a sense of tension and suspense, two qualities that were evident throughout the whole story.

There were also several problems I had with the actual characters and the plot itself. For being the next person to die, John doesn’t seem too worried about not blending in. I understand that what he wants is a normal life, but there’s only so much you can do before the Mogadorians are going to find you.

Not only this, but he’s rather dense at times, especially when it comes to Bernie Kosar (a dog that he and Henri ‘adopt’ in Ohio). I just don’t comprehend how much John seemed not to notice, even though this entire time he was supposedly trying to stay alert and awake for any signs of something unusual.

The sequel, The Power of Six, was just released on August 23, 2011. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m excited to find out what’s going to happen to Number Four and the rest of the Loriens.

*Legacy – A special power; e.g. invisibility, telekinesis, etc.