I first learned of I Am Number Four through the movie adaptation of the same name produced by Michael Bay through DreamWorks. I found the movie great when it premiered in early 2011 and have been waiting for the sequel The Power of Six.
A few days ago, I finally read the book, where the movie was supposed to have been based on. Written by Pittacus Lore, one of the elders of a distant planet that arrived here on Earth more than 12 years ago (In-Real-Life, it is a combined pen name of Jobie Hughes and James Frey). This was when I found that the novel has more to offer than the movie, to the point that the movie stopped being any “good” for me.
Here’s my review of the character-filled novel I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore… (spoiler alert!)
The events in this book are real. Names and places have been changed to protect the Lorien Six, who remain in hiding.
Take this as your first warning. Other civilizations do exist. Some of them seek to destroy you.
The book opens in a dense jungle following the events of Number Three, a Lorian alien, as he is being hunted by Mogadorians, another alien race bent on conquering other planets including Earth. When Three was killed, all the other remaining Gardes, as these numbered Lorians are called, gets a very intense burn on their right ankle that leaves a deep scar right through their bones.
The Gardes were charmed upon arriving on Earth. They can only be killed in the proper order they were numbered. If anyone tries to harm them in any way, including Humans and animals, the effects instead are done in reverse. I am not sure however what the effects will be if they try to commit suicide, how the reverse effect will function? Anyway, there is no way to know because when Two committed suicide, as one of the theory of how Two died, Number One was already killed.
This is the plotline of the Lorien Legacies series. It is about the nine Gardes living here on Earth, bidding their time, waiting for their powers to manifest, train, and strike back at the Mogadorians, to save Planet Earth and to retake their own planet - Lorien, destroyed and left dying by the antagonist of the series.
Set on our planet, the present time - which is 2010 when the book was released - Humanity as we know today is still in a state of denial of any possibility of life elsewhere on the universe - or the lack of evidence, since we’re a race of “to see is to believe". This is how the Lorians and Mogadorians are able to mingle with us, unnoticed for thousands of years. We are in the middle of an interstellar war, with our own survival at stake, yet we have not a single idea about it.
John Smith, as Number Four is known, is a teenager trying to live an ordinary life. He, together with the other Gardes and their Cépans (their guardians and trainors), arrived here on Earth back in the year 2000. Number One was killed in Malaysia, Number Two in England. And Number Three in the forests in Kenya. John is next.
He and his Cépan named Henri, moved from State to State every six months, or earlier when John has gathered too much attention to himself. Over time, John’s Legacies manifested one-by-one, and he fell in love with Sarah Hart during their stay in Paradise, Ohio.
This is where the movie started to deviate a lot from the book. In the novel, the reader is presented with a deep character development of John, Henri, Sarah, and Sam Goode (John’s first best friend). The relationship between John and Henri was also explored in-depth which the movie skipped. Their Cépans for example are not really warriors, Henri only used an ordinary shotgun throughout the book but in the movie adaptation, he was using a Lorian weapon.
The relationship between John and Sarah was also deep. The reader will be able to relate to the love the two characters shares with each other. Or if you have never been in loved before, then you will wish you’ll find the love of your life soon. The same thing goes between John and Sam.
“He who doesn’t understand history is doomed to repeat it. And when it’s repeated, the stakes are doubled.”~ Henri Smith, Number Four’s Cépan.
In this book, the “father-son” relationship between Henri and John was a very special one. Henri was not just John’s guardian and trainer, he was “the only” person and father John has ever known. They fought together, they saved each other, they bled together, healed each other, had arguments, even hurt each other.
Thus when Henri died during the invasion of the Mogadorians in Paradise High School, he was devastated. He lost his light, his guide. He lost the only person that can put back sense to him. Which continued on in the next book The Power of Six, which is for another review.
Going back, during the Mogadorian invasion of Paradise High School, Number Six was introduced. She was trying to find Number Four so they can fight together, complementing each other’s abilities and become even stronger. It was a huge risk for Six because once two Gardes comes too close, the seal that protects them from being killed randomly is broken. Making everyone a fair game, which unfortunately, Numbers Five, Seven, Eight, and Nine had no way to find out the seal is off. Neither do the Mogadorains.
This novel is an introduction to the series. It tells us the world that we are missing from the perspective of John Smith or Number Four. It introduces us in the war that is raging in the universe, whose frontlines is now here on Earth with you and I at the middle of it.
If you have seen the movie, then you definitely should read this book. You will appreciate the characters more, and you will see the series from a new, fresh perspective. I bet you will be a fan a like me of the Lorien Legacies series. I give it 8.0 out of 10 stars, a good book for everyone to read: I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies).