Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I Am Number Four - Pittacus Lore

    2010; 440 pages.  Genre : Teen Fantasy.  Laurels : New York Times #1 Best Seller, Children's Chapter (7 weeks in a row).  New Author(s)? : Yes.  Overall Rating : 6*/10.

The wicked Mogadorians have destroyed every living thing on the planet Lorien.  Except for 9 "gifted" children, along with their guardians, who have fled to Earth, scattered, and gone into hiding while waiting for their special powers ("Legacies") to develop.

    But the Mogadorians are here as well, hunting down the Loriens in numerical order (don't ask).  Three have already been executed.  I am Number Four.

What's To Like...
    The prologue is riveting.  The climactic ending is over-the-top (which is fine) and 100 pages long.  In between things are kinda mundane, but at least they're fast-paced.  The book has some good messages for YA readers : don't bully; don't smoke; don't drink; don't use drugs (except for Loric pepper-upper pills); take care of the planet; be kind to animals.  The bully eventually turns into a good guy, which is a nice change-of-pace.  And there's a beagle named Bernie Kosar who most of the time steals the show.

    The writing is shallow, either because that's the skill level of Pittacus Lore, or because I Am Number Four is styled for YA readers.  We'll give the author the benefit of the doubt, and we'll ignore his mysterious bio.  Things move along swimmingly until your brain wakes up and says, "wait a minnit!"  Then there are problems - lots of them.  For instance:

a.) why can the kids only be killed in numerical order?  What kind of two-bit magic is that?

b.) how convenient that the planet Lorien was overflowing with diamonds, rubies, etc., and that the fleeing kids/guardians had the presence of mind to bring huge stashes with them to Earth, even as their planet was being blasted to smithereens.  Takes care of all the money problems.

c.) The healing stones only work when the injury was due to evil intent.  How amazing of the stone to instantly determine that!  How un-amazing that it can't fix ordinary injuries, like hitting your finger with a hammer.

d.) How prescient of Henri to teach Number 4 to function while completely engulfed in flames.  Right after learning that, he has to run into a burning house and rescue dogs and GF's.

    In the beginning we were a group of nine.
    Three are gone, dead.
    There are six of us left.
    They are hunting us, and they won't stop until they've killed us all.
    I am Number Four.
    I know that I am next.  (pg. 9)

    "We're not leaving."
    "Yes we are."
    "You can if you want, but I'll go live with Sam.  I'm not leaving."
    "This is not your decision to make."
    "It's not?  I thought I was the one being hunted.  I thought I was the one in danger.  You could walk away right now and the Mogadorians would never look for you.  You could live a nice, long, normal life.  You could do whatever you want.  I can't.  They will always be after me.  They will always be trying to find me and kill me.  I'm fifteen years old.  I'm not a kid anymore. It is my decision to make."
    He stares at me for a minute.  "That was a good speech, but it doesn't change anything.  Pack your stuff.  We're leaving."  (pg. 258)

Let them come.  There will be no more running.  (pg. 88)
    It has to be kept in mind who the Target Audience is for IA#4 - the younger end of YA readers, junior high-schoolers. The bulk of the story takes place in high school, with thrills like a hayride, getting one's driver's license, and taking Home-Ec with the girls.

    Paradoxically, Pittacus Lore chose to sprinkle a couple of cuss words into the dialogue.  I guess they figure tweeners hear that vocabulary every day at school.  OTOH, the hot and heavy and hormonal make-out scenes consist of kissing, cuddling, and copping a grope of the young girl's ...um... lower back.  Be still my lustful heart.

    They made a movie out of this, which I haven't seen.  I think that's a better platform for all the book's clichéd, mind-numbing, deux-ex-machinas.  (what's the plural of deux?  dea?  deo? deum?  god, I hate Latin.)

    6 Stars, assuming you're an adult.  Add 1 star if you can keep your brain asleep.  Add 2 stars if you're in grades 6-8, plus 1 more star if you prefer reading Superman comics to Lord Of The Flies.

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