Thursday, November 25, 2010

I am Number Four (Novel)

I am Number Four (Novel) Release date: 2010. Author: Pittacus Lore. Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books. ISBN: 9780061969553.

Plot summary: Number Four and his guardian have been on the run for fifteen-years ever since they escaped from their home planet, Lorien, after it was destroyed by the evil Mogadorians. Number Four and eight other children and their guardians, or Cêpan, live in hiding all over the Earth as they are hunted by the Mogadorians. A Loric charm was cast as they escaped from Lorien, and the nine children can only be killed in numerical order. When one child dies, a small scar appears on the ankles of the remaining Lorien children. Number Four is fifteen when a third scar appears: one, two and three have been murdered, and he is next in line. Constantly changing identities and moving from place to place, school to school, Number Four and his guardian arrive in Paradise, Ohio to stay for however long they can. Four assumes the name of John Smith, his guardian, Henri, and together they begin another new life in Paradise. For John, something is different about this new place. He makes a true friend, Sam, falls in love for the first time with Sarah, and even adopts a stray dog, Bernie Kosar. John also discovers that he is beginning to develop his Legacies: superpowers that the nine Lorien children will receive as they grow older. Henri trains John in using his Legacies to protect himself, and John becomes more accustomed to life in Paradise as time passes. But how long will John be able to enjoy his new friends before the Mogadorians find him?

Critical evaluation: With an interesting storyline that will appeal to both teen and adult audiences, I am Number Four seems poised to become the latest teen novel craze. With the movie rights purchased before the novel was even released (the film version is set to come out in theaters in February 2011), I am Number Four has the elements of a successful series like Twilight or Harry Potter. The main character, Number Four, or John as he becomes early in the novel, is very compelling. He has a lot of his plate for a fifteen-year-old: he is hunted ruthlessly by the Mogadorians and has spent his life on the run with his guardian Henri; he longs for normal human relationships like friends and family; he’s unsure of his newly developing Legacies and if he will be able to use them to protect himself; he’s dealing with bullies at school who seem from the start determined to make life difficult for the “new guy”; he’s falling in love with the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. The plot seems to focus more on John’s life as a teenager who is different, with the aspects of John’s alien’s past in the background. The breakout star of the novel, and most likely the film, is Bernie Kosar, the little beagle who John and Henri “adopt” (rather the dog adopts them) shortly after arriving in Paradise. There is something mysterious about Bernie, and readers will enjoy learning more about him while laughing at his antics (Henri dresses the beagle up as Superman for Halloween, etc.) Overall, I am Number Four is a very successful starting point for what is sure to be a very well-loved series. The second novel, The Power of Six, is set to come out on June 7, 2011.

Reader's annotation: John Smith is from the planet Lorien and has been on the run with his guardian, Henri, for fifteen-years since his planet was destroyed by the cruel Mogadorians. After moving to the town of Paradise, Ohio, however, and falling in love for the first time, John isn’t sure if he wants to run anymore.
About the author: According to the book jacket, Pittacus Lore is the ruler of the planet Lorien who has been in hiding on Earth for twelve years. In reality, Pittacus Lore is the combination of two authors, Jobie Hughes and James Frey, who collaborated in writing I am Number Four. Hughes, born in Ohio in 1980, made his authorial debut with I am Number Four. Author James Frey made news headlines with his first work A Million Little Pieces published in 2005. This “memoir” was supposedly about Frey’s struggle with drug and alcohol addiction and his rehabilitation from this disease. It was later revealed, however, that much of this account was untrue. Frey received a lot of criticism from the news media, including talk show host Oprah Winfrey, for claiming this memoir was true. Frey published two other novels following this unusual debut, My Friend Leonard (2005) and Bright Shiny Morning (2008). In 2009, Frey created a publishing company called Full Fathom Five with the goal of creating successful young adult novels. A great deal of controversy surrounds this publishing company which many claims exploits literary students (like Jobie Hughes) to create commercially viable novels. (

Genre: Science-fiction

Curriculum ties:

Booktalking ideas:
Social aspects of high school
Death and murder
Relationship of John and Henri

Reading level/Interest Age:
Grade 9-12

Challenge issues:

Challenge counterpoints:Recommended for grades 9-12.
Recommend parent read book before child.

Reasons for inclusion:
Positive reviews from Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, The Horn Book.
New York Times bestseller.

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