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Suspension of Disbelief: I Am Number Four

This week’s fictional outing with Teen Skepchick: I Am Number Four- the book one- by Pittacus Lore. Okay, ‘Pittacus Lore‘. If you like aliens, magic, teen fiction, and good quality, accessible writing… You’ll probably like this!

 I Am Number Four is the first in a proposed series of six books (the second of which has already been released). It follows 15-year-old alien John Smith and his guardian Henri through their flight from their own planet- Lorien- to Earth. They are running from the Mogadorians; a destructive race who ruined Lorien and have made it their mission to kill the few remaining teenage Lorics who escaped. Straightforward story, I hear you say! Um…

Yeah, it only gets worse. These nine teenagers are a special race called the Garde, who develop a range of powers called Legacies. They were hurriedly charmed before they fled, meaning that they can only be killed in order of their number. This story, obviously, follows number four.

Alright, alright. I’ve made it out to be complicated, but that’s only when you have to condense it down to two paragraphs. Upon reading, the novel actually possesses a coherent and enjoyable storyline, so don’t be dissuaded!

John and Henri live a life on the move, never staying for more than a few months in one place. The guardian spends all of his time tracking the movements of the Mogadorians and checking on the status of the other Garde. When Number Three dies and John is no longer protected by the charm, they are forced to move and assume a new identity again. However, the teenager is desperate to live a more stable life; he can have no friends, no relationship, and can do nothing that would draw attention to himself. They settle in Ohio and John does typical teenage stuff- attending the local highschool and becoming dangerously close to a local girl, Sarah. One day in science class, John does something not-so-typical; his hands start to glow. Uncontrollably. Like two big torches, but alive. Naturally, this freaks him out somewhat and he asks Henri what the deal is.

Henri explains that all Garde children eventually develop special powers. They cannot choose them, or learn them from a book- but they can learn to control them, thus increasing their power. These Legacies are the only real way for the peaceful Loriens to defend themselves, so it is crucial that the Garde are kept alive long enough to develop them and fight the Mogadorians to regain power over their ruined planet. John’s Legacies become stronger, but so do his feelings for Sarah- complicating matters hugely. He is no longer willing or free to run from place to place as he used to due to his attachment to her and the danger he is placing her in. Without revealing too much else; conflict, killings and twists ensue, and it’s generally awesome.

This book has a strong storyline, relatable characters and a certain accessible eloquence. It’s absorbing; we feel their pain, sense their frustration and experience their loss. The writing is not so banal or basic as to be insulting, but not as unnecessarily verbose as many sci-fi and fantasy novels are. It’s a good balance which results in an enjoyable but not overly challenging read, which is cool enough to make me want to get the rest of the series.

Overall, it gets 3 out of 5 shiny hands.

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