I Am Number Four
Pittacus Lore
Harper Teen, 2010

I Am Number Four is a young adult superhero novel, and currently one of the most popular of this genre.

The story follows a teenage alien living as a refugee on Earth; his planet, Lorien, was destroyed by an evil alien race, and he was among a small group that fled to the nearest safe planet. Earthlings are nice, but weak; they don't have super-strength, super-speed, or any sort of control over the elements. Earthlings, in other words, are harmless. But someone is killing the survivors -- and it's not hard to guess who it might be. The evil aliens, the Mogadorians, are on Earth, and hunting them down.

Because magic, the refugees are invincible unless they are killed in order; and they have been. One, Two, and then Three have died over the years, despite being scattered to the ends of the Earth. This is the story of number Four. He is not without hope, however: the Loriens get extra powers in their teens, and at 14 number Four is finally getting his first true tallent.

This is a fast moving story that has proved very popular; there are currently seven novels in the series and another 15(!) in the spinoff series Lorien Legacies. Unfortunately, I can't give it a very good review. The plot is punctuated by surprising rules and bits of magic that are placed so that they appear as if they were invented on the spot to take the story in the direction the author wants -- making the story seem both arbitrary and full of dei ex machina. Foreshadowing is heavy and obvious clues are ignored by the characters. The characters are stereotypical and often flat. And the plot is very much off-the-rack.

That said, this is not entirely unexpected in a popular series for tweens and teens, and there's some good stuff here too. People learning about superpowers, battling evil aliens, and living in secret societies while being hunted by other secret societies are fun plot devices, and once you get over the stereotypical-ness of the characters, many of them are fairly well developed and show growth over the course of the story.

While I would not particularly recommend this to anyone, I expect that you are most likely to enjoy it if you are in your early teens, like science fiction/fantasy/superheroes, but do not care for hard SF/high fantasy, and would rather read about fighting monsters and high-school romance.

The second book in the series is The Power of Six.

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