Whatever you may try to do, its always impossible to completely avoid hype. That is what happened to me in the case of I Am Number Four, I gave in to the hype and decided to give the book a chance, see what the deal was all about. And what a deal it is. Even before its release, I Am Number Four had sold movie rights off and filming also began before publication. That was enough to get me interested; a book that is so good that it is able to get a huge movie deal so fast, before even the reactions of readers are known - I had to see what it was. I can’t say I’m displeased. Make no mistake, this is a YA novel and it does contain a number of clichés and it’s also evident why it’s perfect blockbuster material - not always a plus for a book - yet it’s a book that carries you away with its fast-pace story, lovable characters, neat mythos and yes, a blockbuster feel, that are all very likely to win you over.
Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. W live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books - but we are real.
Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us a re running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. We have lived among you without you knowing.
But they know.
They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.
I am Number Four
I am next.
Before picking up the novel, or actually going to the bookstore and seeing it in that section, I had no Idea that I Am Number Four was a young adult book. After reading it the really is no other way to classify it. It Is YA to the max, with the much used boy-trying-to-fit-in-at-school storyline with all the accompanying tropes. One knows going into one of these stories that the boy trying to stand out will of course standout (it wouldn’t make much of story if he didn’t now, would it?) and of course he’s going to start bashing heads with the toughest guy in school who happens to be the ex of the prettiest girl in school who, in turn, seems to take pity on the new kid and inevitably falls in love with him. We’ve all heard this story, right?
Well I Am Number Four goes through it again, but somehow it didn’t bore me, even though I’ve encountered such a story countless times. Which is probably why it’s used so much. But I Am Number Four also mixes in another typical story, that of the young man, in this case young alien, who with the aid of his mentor actively works into developing his powers and skills so that he may go on to fulfill the task set out for him. Still nothing new here. There is a duality between these two storyline that sets in and makes them drive each other onwards. Also present is yet another commonly seen storyline, closely linked to the boy developing his powers one, that is the young man discovering the truth about his past and the events that led to him being thrust into such unusual circumstances - this is probably the least most intriguing storyline because of the inherent mystery and mythos that it involves. The interweaving of these storylines makes for a nice blend of flavors, bringing together conflict, action, love and mystery in a way that can be interesting and worth the read.
If you add to all this some pretty stereotypical characters (I think you can sort of see the trend by now) and you’ve got yourself a perfect blockbuster or, in this case, young adult novel. But stereotypical characters are so for a reason: their popular and they work. So it stands to reason that they also work in I Am Number Four. Four, or John, is your standard issue adolescent hero, getting into all sorts of trouble and (a bit unbelievably) fights his way through it. Sarah in much the same way is your typical love interest and Mark is your oh so common jock. Really it’s not as bad as it all sounds, all these characters have their moments and despite what we might think about lack of originality, they are so easy to love.
I think it’s quite clear that many won’t find themselves in I Am Number Four, some simply because it is YA, others because the unoriginal plot might deter them altogether, but the rest will find a story that is over quickly but is filled with an enjoyable dose of excitement, action, love and - what this type of blockbuster-like books is best loved for - fun. With its lack of heaviness this book is a perfect (engaging) respite between two more complex books. I Am Number Four is the first in a planned six-book series with the next, The Power of Six, set for Spring 2011 publication. But there will be the opportunity to visit John & Co. before that with the February release of the I Am Number Four movie, produced by Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg and direct by D.J. Caruso.
My Rating: 4 out of 5
Reading Age: 13 and up
Jobie Hughes' Website: http://www.jobiehughes.com/
James Frey's Website: http://www.bigjimindustries.com/
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