Sunday, September 12, 2010

Not looking forward to number two

I was prepared to like this. Really. After reading Mockingjay, I felt that I needed to read a fast-paced and well-written young adult novel. I Am Number Four is fast-paced, but well written it is not. And somehow, it comes off as an uncoordinated mash-up of several themes in YA literature.

I Am Number Four is the first of six planned novels by Pittacus Lore. No one can live in the world with that name; Pittacus Lore is a pseudonym of course. (PL is actually James Frey, who is famous for his semi-bogus autobiography, A Million Little Pieces.)

Number Four is a 15-year-old boy who goes by a different name every time they move to a new small town in the United States with his guardian. When they move to Paradise, Ohio, Number Four goes by the uninspired name of John Smith. These two are really aliens; they've fled their planet Lorien when a race from another planet, the Mogadorians, invades their home planet and slaughters every one.

So John is number four out of a group of nine. They're Garde, who are citizens of Lorien who develop powers (called Legacies) as they hit their teens. Aside from the Garde, there are also those called Cêpan, who serve as guardians to the Garde. John's Cêpan, Henri, is concerned that the Mogadorians have been able to kill Numbers One, Two, and Three. John's number, literally, is up. Mogadorians can kill these young Garde in sequence, as a charm from Lorien's elders protect them.

When the nine and their guardians left Lorien, they were but wee children. Now, they're coming into their Legacies. Thus, the Mogadorians are hunting them in a fury. Because pretty soon, when these young persons develop all their powers, they're now capable of waging war against the Mogadorians and reclaiming Loriel as their own.

I Am Number Four presents nothing new. If you want to read about young people developing powers, you're better off reading the X-Men graphic novels. And there's a whole cinematic feel to everything. It's as if PL-slash-James Frey wrote the novel as an afterthought, after coming up with the screenplay in his mind.

This book is set to be adapted to the big screen by Michael Bay, a director known for blowing things up. (You walk into a Michael Bay movie, and you leave the theater with a ringing in your ears.) In the last few chapters of the book, there's useless destruction everywhere. School buildings get blown up, huge monsters fight one another (à la Godzilla vs. Mothra, which I will prefer any time), fireballs flying here and there, explosives and gunfire going off every few seconds. The result is one big mess.

Not content with all these destruction, PL also gives us cheese. And what rotten cheese he serves up! A dying character always manages to give words of advice to John Smith such as "Be strong," and "I wouldn't have missed a second of it, kiddo. Not for all of Lorien. Not for the whole damn world." Cringe-inducing moments indeed.

I guess the only persons who would go through the series as the books come out will be teenage boys. They're the only ones who have the patience and energy. Incidentally, this is the same crowd who can sit through a Michael Bay movie and actually have a good time.

Read this book if:
  1. You believe that chapter books get better as the series progresses.
  2. You love destruction.
  3. You have way too much time on your hands and can afford to waste three to four hours of mindless reading.


fantaghiro23 said...

Hey, Peter. Thanks for the review. Was thinking of picking this one up, bec. the movie stars the girl from Glee and Alex Pettyfer, and bec. it's supposedly good. Was iffy, though, since I read some reviews that said it wasn't anything special. At least now you've clinched it.

Peter S. said...

Hi, Honey! Yes, too bad for me though. I think I'll still catch the movie though. Hehehe.

fantaghiro23 said...

Oh, yes. I'm going to watch it for Alex Pettyfer.:)

Mirek Sopek said...

The reason Number 3 is the best recommendation :-) LOL !!!



Stepford Mum said...

Ew. I will be so glad not to add this to my want-to-read list. I hate Michael Bay movies and their ilk, so much that my husband doesn't even bother asking me when those types of films come out and just watches them alone or with his guy friends.

I will give you a book at the discussion on Saturday that I hope you enjoy more than the last two YA fails you read - consider it an early Christmas gift :)

Peter S. said...

@Mirek: LOL!

@Stepford Mum: Thanks! I love early Christmas gifts!

ןıuǝ oɟ ɟןıƃɥʇ said...

I like the idea behind the book. Have you read Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim? Very intense but probably much more moving than this book.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I'm not sure about this one. James Frey didn't make a great name for himself with Million Little Pieces, and certainly didn't live down his public humiliation, via Oprah. Oh, well, I'm glad to see he's trying something new and different.

Fun review!

Peter S. said...

@line of flight: Yes, I've read Mysterious Skin! It's one of my favorite books!

@theliterarylollipop: I actually liked A Million Little Pieces, when I read it.

welski said...

saw this book at national last week. good thing i did not buy it! thanks for the review!

Peter S. said...

Hi, Welski! Well, maybe if you did buy it and get to read it, you'll eventually like it! Hehehe.

Anonymous said...

Hello Peter. I'm a new member of the Filipino Book Bloggers and currently on the process of getting to know all the members. Your review make it sounds like a typical James Patterson novel. On the contrary, I really like Michael Bay films. Transformers, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Bad Boys, Pearl Harbor...hmm. I pretty much like everything. :)

Oh btw, Michael Bay isn't the director. He, along with Steven Spielberg, will just produce the film. Same difference, really. :)

Peter S. said...

Hi, guygonegeek! Oh, thanks for the correction! I should really do more research before I post anything factual. Hehe. I've visited your blog! It's awesome!

Tina said...

I was thinking of picking this up too...but then maybe not. I mean, I like my share of destruction, but I don't necessarily love it. Heh. Maybe I will catch the movie instead.

Peter S. said...

Hi, Tina! Yes, let's all catch the movie, and hopefully, the movie will be worth my money than what I spent on this book.

La Coccinelle said...

Yeesh. This sounds rather dreadful.