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‘I Am Number Four’ review

“I Am Number Four” starts off with the main characters, Four and Henri, spending every day looking over their shoulders, the same shoulders upon which rest the last wisps of hope for the Lorien civilization. One night, the third scar burns itself into Four’s ankle, meaning that now, the other aliens who have been hunting him since he arrived can kill him. Before escaping their planet, there was a special charm placed on nine surviving children. The charm protects them somewhat in that they can only be killed in a certain order. The third scar means that Four is next. Quickly escaping the Floridian town Four and Henri have been hiding in, the duo changes their names and move to Paradise, Ohio, as remote of a town as they could find. Four is now beginning to develop powers associated with his race, but as his power grows, how long can he remain hidden?
Written by multiple people, but published under the name “Pittacus Lore,” “I Am Number Four” is another quintessential young adult novel. This novel combines traditional science fiction with young adult literature. Wars between aliens of different races is not an uncommon motif in old-school science fiction, but throwing in the young adult aspect really provides a totally new story. Often times, novels that require “world building,” because they are far-fetched, get lost in the construction of the world, but this one effectively teases the reader with limited information given directly, indirectly or through short flashbacks. Alien invasion stories can often feel unbelievably haphazard and unrealistic (refer to: Men in Black II), but “I Am Number Four” delivers a fresh story that, if you are willing to suspend a little disbelief, is believable. Fiction is often a genre that is hard to deliver believably, simply because it is hardly based in reality.
That being said, this novel does fall into the traditional trope of boy meets girl who’s out of his league, boy gets into a fight with her ex (the quarterback), boy and girl fall in love. Since this series spans the course of seven novels and a large collection of supporting material and stories outside of the main novels, I remain hopeful that this relationship will expand into something more interesting. The relationship doesn’t consume the novel entirely, but if you’re trying to avoid typical teenage relationship stories, this novel is not the way to go.
As a whole, “I Am Number Four” proudly showcases the potential of the Young Adult Science Fiction sub-genre. It has a wonderful plot that isn’t too predictable, while successfully setting up world building that is anticipated to be continued in the following novels. Casting this book aside without giving it a chance seems like a little mistake, but according to one of the characters: “It’s the little mistakes that lead to big mistakes.”

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