I Am Number Four

Okay, before I start with the review, I’m going to instate a new posting schedule, since my ability to post is slightly encumbered right now.  There will be approximately three posts per week.  I will try to stick with this to the best of my ability, but don’t kill me if I fail.  On to the SPOILER-FREE review.

I Am Number Four is by Pittacus Lore.  First of all, I’d like to point out that it is a sad thing when an author’s name and his book title rhyme.  Just saying.

When I started this book, I felt almost sure that it was written by an adolescent.  I looked at the author bio and thought “Yes!  I was right!  It says ‘Pittacus Lore has been on Earth for twelve years…'”  Then I realized that it also said he was the leading elder on the planet Lorien.  That kind of indicates that he is more than twelve years old.  That and the brown leather shoes visible in the author picture.

One of my pet peeves is names copied from Tolkien.  Lorien, for those who don’t know, is a land in Middle Earth.  The forest of Lothlorien lies close by.  Thus, when I saw the name Lorien, I did a facepalm.  This was one reason I thought this was written by a kid.  Another reason was the large letters on the outsides of the pages.  That kind of thing would only be thought up by a new author, and probably by a kid.

The writing was fairly good.  The conversation and even the narration utilized altogether too much slang and profanity.  Listen, I don’t care if that’s how every teenager you meet speaks– I like my books clean of all such elements and grammatically correct as much as possible.  There are books where the occasional swear word is permissible, but when it comes up in every conversation, something’s off.

There was no humor whatsoever.  Well, maybe there was one joke…  A bad one…  But not much of one.  This was one of those books where you notice scenes and events that you could really laugh at if it was described the correct way.  If that one character had just said this…  If he had misinterpreted that…  In other words, the author had the makings of a funny book, but didn’t have the ability to get it there.

The characters were undeveloped.  It seemed like they had no lives outside of the main plot.  Need to jump in a car and drive across the state in a dilapidated truck?  No problem!  I don’t have a life that doesn’t include the main character!

The story was an alien invasion sort of thing: One group of aliens has come to escape the other group of aliens, who are intent on occupying Earth.  The first group must defend the helpless planet against the evil aliens while keeping alive themselves.  The Earth-is-a-battleground-for-supernatural-powers thing.

All in all, I don’t think this book was the greatest.  It wasn’t exactly the worst either, which is good, but it definitely isn’t on my favorite books list, or even my educational books list.  It’s on the not-worth-mentioning list.  I’m trying to figure out if I should look for the second and third books or not.

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  1. Seana J. Vixen

     /  April 30, 2012

    Hmm…July also read this book and seemed quite fond of it. Based on your review, I’m not sure I would like it. I like my books to be nice and clean and the grammar neatly checked (unless it’s the character’s main asset to be totally awful with their grammar) and of course, you have to make the character’s seem real. Like you could pull them out of the book and talk to them about anything you wanted to. And I definitely need sparks of humor in books or I get bored to death. Large font in a book? I can’t stand it; it gives me dreadful headaches. So now the question is: To read, or not to read?

    • Unless you’re extremely bored (the state of mind I was in last week), I’d say don’t worry about it. You won’t miss much.

  2. Hey! I don’t talk with profanity in every conversation 🙂 I really don’t but I agree, I want my writing to be nice and clean too. I did like it but I also came across many of the same problems that you have. Right now I am actually reading the sequel, and let’s just say that so far it is interesting…
    Now, dinner is calling, so I must bid my farewell on the subject and to you all.
    Farewell wonderful book lovers and writers!

  3. I read I Am Number Four maybe a year ago, and I didn’t think much of it, either. I thought it was good for some quick action and romance, but nothing more. I found it to be slightly (okay, more than slightly) gimmicky, with mediocre writing and poorly developed characters, just as you said. I have no interest in watching the movie adaptation or continuing to read the series.

  4. I haven’t had any chance to read it. The movie was… lacking, to say the least. I feel like the book would be the same.

    Your review was good. Based off of it, I don’t think I’ll pick up this book.

  5. Erin

     /  May 1, 2012

    I was considering reading this book after I heard they were making a movie adaption, but now….eh. I probably won’t pick it up unless I’m desperate for something to read.

  6. John Hansen

     /  May 5, 2012

    Nice review! I hate underdeveloped characters. It drives me insane. Same with characters that are exceptionally stupid, naive, and clueless. Unfortunately, it happens. I never read the book or the movie because the plot looked like nothing new to me. I’m glad I wasn’t missing anything, after all.

  7. DK

     /  March 18, 2014

    I regretted buying that book and gave it up after the first few chapters. Of what I’ve read of it, I tend to agree with your review.

    Except, I totally disagree with what you said about swearing.

    Let me start by saying that for YA fiction, I Am Number Four did have a little too much bad language, and it seemed artificial to me. But to cuss in novels in general isn’t bad, Liam. It needs to add to the story. Add to the characters, help them express themselves better. Certain characters with high-stress jobs, like soldiers or businessmen tend to swear more anyway, and we keep saying that our dialogue must be realistic, right? Obviously you can’t cuss in children’s books and MG novels, and even in YA, the language should be brought down to a bare minimum, but if used correctly, swear words can do wonders for a story. It just needs to flow with the prose, that’s all.

    Let’s face it, swearing is a way of expression. It’s a part of human language, whether we like it or not. For a writer, it’s another tool. I agree that excessive use of this tool for no obvious reason makes the story seem cheap and badly written, but it’s a tool nonetheless, and we can use it if we want. Cussing is an indispensable part of our speech. To completely disregard it because it’s perceived as “unclean language” is silly. They’re words that thousands and millions of people across the world use every day.

    • A bit of backstory: this review was written in the early years of the blog, when I had very strong sentiments about what should and should not happen in a book. Swearing was one of those things– I had never encountered a place where it added to the story. (I hadn’t read as widely as I have now.) Now, I completely agree with you. In the right place, swearing is fine. There are times when it’s unnecessary, but you’re right. I apologize for my past ignorance.

      But, just because, I have to disagree with the last thing you said. Just because people swear every day doesn’t mean they have to swear to seem real. A character will seem real because of who they are– if the character is useless and inconsistent, no amount of swearing is going to help their cause. I still agree that swearing is fine in the right place– Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick convinced me of that– but just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s necessary. If you think of swearing as a tool, it’s a pretty weak one compared to most others.

      Thanks for the comment.

      • DK

         /  March 21, 2014

        It’s like adjectives, only with different rules. Swear only if it adds to the character, the emotion or the feel of the story. If it doesn’t, don’t. Too much of it is an eye-sore.

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