I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies)

Image of I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies, 1)
Release Date: 
August 22, 2011
Reviewed by: 

I Am Number Four is the first young adult novel from the infamous, best selling author James Frey and the debut novel of his co-author, Columbia MFA graduate, Jobie Hughs. They have chosen to write under the pseudonym Pittacus Lore, a character from the book and one of its narrative voices.

The novel takes the paranormal phenomenon in YA literature in a fresh direction exploring aliens. I Am Number Four is the first of a six-book series that tells the tale of nine children from the planet Lorien. Their home planet has been invaded and destroyed by a hostile race called the Mogadorian. The “Lorien Nine” and their guardians are the sole survivors of the vicious war. They have settled on Earth to await the time they are ready to fight the enemy, avenge their people, and reclaim and rebuild their planet.

The Nine are protected by a charm specifying that they can only be killed by their enemies in numeric order. Three of the nine have been located and killed. The narrator of the story, John Smith, is number four—and time is running out. John and his guardian have stayed on the move to evade capture for the past ten years they’ve lived on Earth. They settle in Paradise, Ohio. Fifteen-year-old John has finally made a friend—his first—and a girlfriend as well. It’s going to make a sudden move a whole lot harder now—not to mention the fatal consequences looming.

Frey and Hughs have written a story that is rich in its world-building potential and execution. They have very skillfully utilized a prologue and worked in the backstory of planet Lorien all while introducing the reader into the action of the story right from the start. One can’t help but be drawn in immediately to these young people and the details of their searing saga.

The book strikes the right balance between description of Lorien and the characters, not letting the action and tension of the conflict lag. The protagonist may be an alien, but as an earthly teen, he faces a problem common to all young people: the need and struggle to belong, fit in, and find love—all issues we can identify with.

Clearly, Hollywood has already recognized the potential of the story and is in production at this very moment to bring it to life in all its cinematic glory in February 2011.

This reader raced through the book and discovered moments of poignancy and pain, sadness and regret, interspersed with heart-stopping action. Quite an accomplishment on the part of both authors. Awaiting the next installment with great anticipation . . .