Monday, March 7, 2011

I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four
By Pittacus Lore
Published by Harper Collins

I chose to read this book after I had seen the preview trailers for the upcoming movie of the same name. I love science fiction and this seemed like a really good thriller. Click here to see a trailer. In watching the trailer, I can already see some similarities as well as differences between the book and the movie. However, even after reading the book (which I like to do before seeing the movie) I get excited about seeing it in film.

The book's main premise is that there were nine alien children sent to earth to escape the evil Mogadorians who destroyed their entire planet and people. The Mogadorians are trying to kill them off but they can only do so in sequence - each child is given a number rather than a name as well as a special guardian to help them survive. Of course, children one through three are killed (the way the remaining children know this is a painful scar appears around their ankle) and we are introduced to Number Four.

Number Four has spent his whole life running from place to place, taking on different names and identities under the tutelage of his guardian. He is tired of running and, at the same time, is coming into his own abilities. This makes for an explosive mix (think of the combination of rebellious teenager, raging hormones and other wordly powers). Just as Number Four, now John Smith, tries to control his new abilities, the Mogadorians are in town and wreck havoc for him, his new friends and his guardian. By this time John has fallen in love and committed some rather stupid behaviors that bring too much attention to himself.

I won't tell the whole story but I will say that toward the end I found myself telling the character to just grow up and then wondering why he wasn't more mature after all the danger he has lived through and the dangers his repressed memories are now revealing to him. There is a rather lengthy battle at the end of the book that I found way too drawn out.  Number Six is introduced and creates a bridge for the next book, The Power of Six, due out in August of this year.

By the way, the name of the author, Pittacus Lore, is actually a pseudonym for a writing team: James Frey and Jobie Hughes. I found the lack of a true author's name to be a bit off-putting. To make matters worse, Pittacus Lore is actually the name of a character from Lorien. Pittacus was the main leader who may have escaped the destruction of Lorien or at least that is hinted at in the narrative. I suppose we are to think he is therefore the writer of this book and Lorien, aliens and the rest are real.

Overall, the premise is great and the beginning of the book really draws you in. The character of Number Four is interesting as are his growing powers and memories. If you are interested in seeing the movie, I would recommend reading the book (but have not seen it yet myself). 

What about my faith impressions? One thing I noticed was that their home planet, Lorien, had no religion. The leaders were treated almost like gods and the guardians their followers. In other words, this book seems to fall under the concept of humanism. People/aliens are responsible for their good or bad actions as well as responsible for saving themselves. 

Another thing I noticed was the lack of true feelings in these aliens. Number Four lives with his guardian, Henri, but seems to have little feelings for him.  On their home planet, parents leave their children with their grandparents to raise and guardians are brought in to help keep them safe. Number Four's guardian seems to lack a parental kind of love for his charge. He is responsible and tries to hold Number Four accountable but does not do so out of love.

What kind of world would it be without God and without any kind of love? I think it would be pretty bleak and empty. And that is the impression I get from this book. In some ways, John's attempt to stay with his new love and remain in this small town are his own searching for love, family and meaning in his life. I wonder as well if more people on this planet don't feel like numbered aliens, separated from the rest of humanity and searching for something that they cannot get themselves. 

I would be interested if you have either seen the movie or read the book. Let me know what you think!

Happy Reading!


1 comment:

  1. Just have to ad here that the movie is much better than the book! I highly recommend the movie. Amelia