Sunday, July 25, 2010
Review: I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore ★ ★
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I received this book from Star Book Tours (YA ARC tour blog) for review, and I was super excited to read it because I'd heard a lot of buzz and it seemed like it would be right up my alley - aliens taking refuge on Earth and being hunted one by one... Sounds interesting right? I thought so.
Unfortunately, it fell a little flat for me, and was a bit too predictable.
Essentially, the story line is thus: Lorien (which is another thing that drew me to this book, although it's a blatant rip from Tolkien's Lothlorien) is one of 18 life sustaining planets in the universe. There, life developed and thrived millions of years ago, developing technologies and the like, similarly to how Earthlings are doing today. The people of Lorien nearly destroyed their planet (again, shades of Earth) and changed their ways for a more enviro-friendly and light footprint to sustain the world that sustains them. In return for this consideration, the Loric people are given/develop gifts (Legacies) to use to protect the planet.
That is until the Mogadorians show up. These dudes are just bad, greedy, ruthless, and mean. They killed their planet, and so they now want Lorien, and they wage a war to take it. Things go badly, Lorien loses, Mogadore (which recalls another Tolkien land, Mordor) gains an outpost, so to speak. But 9 children, and their guardians, are shipped off planet to bide their time and return when they can fight to regain and save their home.
Now, the question in my mind is this: If an entire planet full of adult and fully trained Legacies, who have come into their powers and abilities and know how to use them, cannot stop the invasion, how are nine kids supposed to? Well, of course in the true hero-quest, our hero, Number Four will be the most special of them all. Perhaps even a prophecy will come to light later saying so.
I did enjoy the story, I don't want to imply that it was horrible - it was a quick read that is exciting and fun. But it wasn't unique, there was far too much convenience and providence to be completely believable, and it was juvenile in all the ways that matter, although it felt like it was trying hard not to be. The writing was clipped and choppy with incomplete sentences and description that left a lot to be desired in some areas, and provided almost too much detail in other areas. Maybe this inconsistency will be cleaned up in the final edit, but maybe not. I didn't feel like all of it was unintentional.
Moving on to the romance aspect, I stopped counting the number of times that I rolled my eyes about halfway through. First of all, the girl, Sarah, is "the most beautiful girl in town", and probably the nicest, and most understanding and the most generous and empathetic and compassionate and... most perfect. Too perfect. She has NO flaws. Zero. Unless you count the fact that she, as a cheerleader, used to date the Bully Football Star, and formed a bit of a dependence. But don't worry, that's all water under the bridge because after a summer away, she found herself and made a life change. At 16. Commendable, but not really believable at all for me.
The relationship seemingly forms out of thin air. One minute they are just friendly, and the next they are in a relationship, and within 3 months they are committed to each other completely. I'm sure that in the history of the world there are relationships that have gone this way, but they are hard to believe, especially when they are formed between two people who are so very different and who, from what I can tell, have nothing in common or anything to base their "love" on. I can see what "John" (Number Four) sees in Sarah as a crush, but what she sees in him, I have no idea. I don't know why she would want to be with him at all, unless it's for the amazing stand-up-to-bully attitude he has, or the way that he plays savior to her damsel in distress three times. During one of these occasions of rescue, he actually says, "No one, and nothing, will ever hurt you as long as I'm alive," during a raging house fire that they are standing in the middle of. Gag. I don't remember thinking or acting that way when I was a teen.
Moving on to more pleasant things, this book is pretty much one big reminder of our responsibility towards our home and environment. The Loriens represent the stewards, the tree-hugging environmentalists (whom I happen to agree with), and the Mogadorians represent the progress-progress-progress industrial types with no scruples when it comes to what is consumed to make that progress. There's no question in the book as to which is the right side. On the plus side, even though I agree with the message, it's never preachy, so one is able to note it and then move on to the plot if they choose.
Overall, this was an OK book. There were things that I wish were fleshed out more, like the characters, and things that I wish were harped on less, like the romance, but it wasn't bad. I certainly do wonder how this will go on for a full series though. We shall see.