In I Am Number Four, Lorien, a planet which is smaller than Earth but for some reason hosted aliens similar to humans and had similar gravity, is attacked and obliterated by evil aliens from another planet. The Loriens fail to defend themselves, somehow, despite having spaceships and magic powers and despite the fact that the battle is fought on the surface, pretty much had to had but with bonus hellbeasts. Also, the flashbacks to the apocalyptic war are exceedingly trite and shallow. Somehow we're supposed to believe that Four gains a whole lot of understanding and compassion just from watching a battle? But I'm getting ahead of myself.
When the planet was lost, the Loriens managed to smuggle out nine children and their (non-magical) protectors to Earth. Before they left, a
I would definitely call it science fantasy of maybe superhero fiction, but I've seen a few superhero movies that gave a more significant nod to physics than I Am Number Four did (including its own movie which left out some of the WTFier bits). I'm not a fan of science fiction without any accurate science at all, so that didn't help. But the action isn't too bad and I didn't find the book actively offensive. The writing is distinctly pedestrian with stilted dialogue and bursts of summarised conversation which were less fun to read through than the proper dialogue (eg "I told her blah and she said that blah and I agreed").
I wanted to like I Am Number Four, but I didn't by the end. The beginning drew me in, but it went downhill from the first Lorien flashback and didn't manage to climb out again. It didn't make me all that angry, though, which is a bit surprising given that it did drive me to skimming pages of battle. In the end it was entertaining enough to earn it an extra half-star.
I think I Am Number Four would be enjoyed by readers who like action and don't like to think too hard about what they're reading. Or younger teens who are less judgemental of quality. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more when I was 12 or 13.
3 / 5 stars
First published: 2010, Penguin
Series: The Lorien Legacies, book 1 of 3
Format read: ebook
Source: Penguin Thriller Trilogy (not actually a trilogy, but a pack of three books), purchased from iBooks on impulse