I Am Number Four by…[cough]…Pittacus Lore

February 28th, 2011 by Brian Leave a reply »

Half-way through I Am Number Four I decided to research the fictional author Pittacus Lore (the author bio said that he’s an Elder on Lorien, so the cynic in me was suspicious).

It turns out it’s James Frey teaming up with Jobie Hughes. Jobie Hughes is just starting out, with no titles out right now on his own (as of the time of this writing according to his website). James Frey is the author of the controversial A Million Little Pieces (controversial since most of the book was fabricated, including his involvement in a real train accident that killed two teens).

That knowledge did influence my reading of the book. Lore’s (I’ll go with the pseudonym) descriptions of high school are, for the most part, realistic. As John Smith, alien Number Four, navigates the hallways of a small school in Ohio. He has to try and blend in so that no one will realize he’s an alien. It’s very Clark Kent/Smallville in its concept. A distraction for me was that the football team/cheerleaders were the mini-antagonists until the bad aliens showed up. In every high school, are all football players jerks? It’s a nitpick, though, because I know it’s a common element in Young Adult fiction.

A fun author reference is when Number Four gets fake IDs. The names are James Hughes and Jobie Frey.

The Mogadorians, the real villains of the story, are an evil race (I’m sure there’s got to be one or two good Mogadorians, right?) of polluters who use nightmares as weapons. They are always one step behind the survivors of Lorien and want to kill Number Four. The cool concept of the book, though, is that a protective spell-ish thing has been set on the Loriens. They can only be killed in order and have a tattoo on their ankle to let them know where they are in line. When Number Four has three burn marks in his tattoo, he realizes he’s next to be hunted.

Henri is his Lorien mentor, fulfilling the Gandalf/Ben Kenobi role seen in other hero stories. Henri instructs him in the ways of the Force Legacies, powers that develop as John/Number Four gets older. Stories that involve this element are a great picture of stepping into the unknown as you mature from child to adult. While we’ve seen many stories use this technique, Lore does it well.

Fans looking for alien fights will have to wait until the very end or be satisfied with quick flashbacks to when the Mogadorians invaded Lorien. I found myself enjoying the high school sequences more than the final boss battle and that may be an indication of James Frey’s influence. He does drama well.

Yes, I do have some complaints, but those do not outweigh my enjoyment of the book. It’s a story we’ve seen before, although I Am Number Four proves that it’s all in how you tell the story.


Leave a Reply