Ｔｉｔｌｅ：I am Number Four
Ｓｅｒｉｅｓ： Book 1
Ｒａｔｉｎｇ： ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
＊Ｎｏｔｅ：Because of how long it takes the book to pick up, I’m afraid I won’t be able to do this completely spoiler-free as usual. So, I’ll keep it to the minimum.
I feel like this is probably the most important part of my review only because most summaries for this book that I’ve seen are really vague. I came into the book knowing just what I could remember from watching the movie (and we all know how those go), which wasn’t too much since I saw that so long ago I could hardly remember the details. So, here goes:
Two alien races collide when the planet Lorien is invaded by the destructive and deadly Mogadorians of Mogadore. When it becomes apparent that Lorien is set to lose, the inhabitants send a group of children and their guardians in a ship bound for Earth. Here, they must stay hidden long enough to develop their supernatural abilities, to train and become strong again so that they may have another chance at recovering what was lost. A powerful charm protects them, only allowing the children to be killed in a specific order. Three are dead, and now they are on the hunt for Number Four.
Gah, okay, so … As I said, this will be a bit of a spoiler, but I think really my favorite character in the book was Number Six. She doesn’t come in until later and her “screen time” is short but eh. I liked that she was the one ready to risk it all and break the charm rather than keep running and hiding.
Unfortunately, aside from her, I didn’t really feel any strong connections to the characters. I liked the relationship between Henri and John (aka Number Four), and maybe I would’ve liked the one with John and Sarah if it was written differently, but I’ll get into that later.
► John and Henri definitely share a bond that goes beyond just survival and duty. They trust one another with their lives and are relatively honest with one another. They have to be. It’s strange because there’s a very friendly vibe to their relationship even though at the same time Henri is his guardian and father-figure, but it makes for some unexpected commentary.
That’s him?” Henri asks.
“Looks like a dick.”
► I gotta say, I kinda laughed and was wondering “how the hell” when I read this scene because I’m not quite sure what Henri was expecting, but: when John starts his training for being fireproof and whatnot, Henri sets him completely on fire and has him do a series of tasks designed to help him stay focused even in the middle of a chaotic fight/battle. Despite being immune to fire/heat, apparently, John’s lungs are not included in the package.
I dive in headfirst and begin rolling. The fire goes out almost immediately but I keep rolling and the sizzle of snow touching the tattered suit is all I hear while wisps of steam and smoke rise off of me. And then Sam finally pulls the clip from the extinguisher and unloads with a thick powder that makes it even harder to breathe.
“No,” I yell.
He stops. I lie there trying to catch my breath, but each inhalation brings about a pain in my lungs that reverberates throughout my body.
“Damn, John. You weren’t supposed to breathe,” Henri says, standing over me.
► There was something just so sad about this scene, even though it was only a few lines. I guess it made me realize how easy Number Four has had it, and how he can take Henri’s presence for granted. He’s such a constant in his life that it seemed to never occur to John that maybe, just maybe, others aren’t that fortunate.
“Do you have a Cepan?” she asks.
“Yes, of course. Don’t you?”
Her weight shifts and she pauses before speaking, as though drawing strength from some unseen entity. “I did,” she says. “She died three years ago. I’ve been on my own since then.”
“I’m sorry,” I say.
► I think this scene accurately describes me reading/watching any book or film where a pet is in danger. “If the dog dies, I swear I quit.”
He’s fading, I think. I won’t watch you die, I tell him. I’m willing to watch many things in this world but I’ll be damned if I’ll watch you die.
► Probably the one scene that really made me go “Huh, she’s alright” in regards to Sarah because it wasn’t just typical teen romance stuff. It gave her more character and I think it added more to her relationship with John than all the lovey-dovey stuff I kept reading.
It reaches to the back of its belt and removes a bowie knife, the blade of which is no less than twelve inches long. I close my eyes. I don’t care anymore. The scout’s raspy breathing comes my way, ten feet, then five. And then the footsteps end. The scout grunts in pain, and begins gurgling.
I open my eyes, the scout is so close that I can smell it. The bowie knife falls from its hands, and there in its chest, where I assume its heart must be, is the end of a butcher’s knife. The knife is pulled free. The scout drops to its knees, falls to its side, and explodes into a puff of ash. Behind it, holding the knife in her shaky right hand, with rears in her eyes, stands Sarah.
I’ve pretty much already explained this a couple times earlier, and it was part of the read feed while I was still reading this book: it is really, really, really slow. I think right off the bat something that irked me was that all the summaries for this book (especially the one on the book itself) were really vague. I’m of the opinion that I shouldn’t have to go on a hunt to find out what the book is about before I buy it. Were it not for the fact that I saw the movie years ago, I probably wouldn’t be interested or know a thing about it.
Once I got that out of the way though, I was excited to read the actual story (we all know the movies are never 100% true to the books) and find out more. But I ended up being a bit disappointed. Most of the story was just teenage drama with the occasional nudge of plot movement. It wasn’t necessarily horrible, but I kept waiting for the action and plot development to kick in.
I’m not entirely sure if I would’ve finished the book if not for my friend telling me that yes it was slow, but it got interesting around the middle. So, I held out and pushed on. Unfortunately, it didn’t really pick up until the last 50 pages. Wow! I mean, it took that long for the story to actually pull me in. Once it did it made me curious enough to speed through the rest fairly easily (I couldn’t put it down and I finished around 3am). But… I mean, it’s kind of hard to sell a book like that to someone: “Hey, this book is great, you should read it. But you really only get to the good part until the last couple of chapters.”
I think the point was to show how ironic it was that Henri kept wanting to move on. Being on the run from the Mogs–at any sign of danger they were expected to pack up and go, but John fell in love with Sarah and fought to stay. It was stupid, but at the same time, if it wasn’t for their connection and the friendships he made I don’t think John would’ve developed his legacies as quickly. Strong emotions help trigger them, and it’s kind of hard to feel something so strongly for someone or something when you’re constantly pushing people away because you don’t expect to still be there in a few months.
Something else that was hard to take in the series was this intense, almost cookie-cutter relationship between John and Sarah. It just felt really cheesy between them, not even in a good way. I don’t know. I wanted to like them because I felt like their rituals were kinda cute (them staying up late at night talking for hours, being partners in home ec, etc), but every time I read an exchange between them I just didn’t care of it. I think it was really just the dialogue that ruined it for me. It felt too much like saying rather than showing. Saying they don’t want to leave one another, they miss one another, they love one another, but there wasn’t anything to back it up.
The reason I picked the scene with Sarah as one of my favorites was because I finally got some evidence to back it up. She wasn’t just the pretty girl getting in danger, getting in trouble with her ex, or whatnot, she left her hiding place where she was safe–from a war she wasn’t a part of–and she risked everything to go and save John.
To John’s credit, there were a few scenes where he risked exposing himself as an alien in order to save Sarah. And he certainly risked everything on him and Henri’s side when he fought to stay in town so he could be with her. Still, the dialogue was just way too cheesy and there was too much teen romance in the book and not enough actual plot progression. It felt like we had all this fluff trying to fill in the gaps until the Mogs showed up and it really didn’t feel like it was enough for me.
Still, I liked the ending. It did make me curious enough to consider getting the next book, but I’m really hoping I won’t have to wait until the last 50 pages again to feel like the plot is going anywhere. So, would I recommend this book? With a lot of caution. If you feel like you can hold out until the midpoint where things start to get rolling, then sure. If not, maybe this won’t be for you. I’m hoping that when I get to the second book I’ll be able to say “This is a good series, just get through the first book and everything will be great after that”, but we’ll have to wait and see.