How Far Can You Count?
I am Number Four
by Pittacus Lore
John Smith is not your average teenager.
He regularly moves from small town to small town. He changes his name and identity. He does not put down roots. He cannot tell anyone who or what he really is. If he stops moving, those who hunt him will find and kill him.
But you can’t run for ever.
So when he stops in Paradise, Ohio, John decides to try and settle down. To fit in. And for the first time he makes some real friends. People he cares about - and who care about him. Never in John’s short life has there been space for friendship, or even love.
But it’s a just a matter of time before John’s secret is revealed.
He was once one of nine. Three of them have been killed.
John is Number Four. He knows that he is next...
The book starts right away, with action that sucks you in. It was nearly impossible to put it down and the writers create images straight into your mind, with the way they’re writing. It’s both intense and dreamy. Many sci-fi books - or books that have aliens in them - are slow-paced, with lots of facts and people mulling over things. Not this one, as Number Four lets us in his head and it’s filled with emotion. The story is told from the emotional aspect, even though it’s never forgotten, that there is danger looming over the whole time. What also is sometimes a problem with sci-fi, is not one here: while there is a lot happening, it never confused me. If Four was running, I was never far behind.
And, I love it how the writer is said to be Pittacus Lore on the cover and inside!
First I fell in love with Number Fours’s speach and thought pattern. Both clearly differ from anyone else’s, as in no other major character in other books thinks like this or inside his own book. No other character in the book is like him, and of course, him being a teenager, is bothered by this. It’s the normal ‘I want to be a normal teen’ -storyline and I’m not really impressed. But still, it’s not the major thing, which surprises me.
Four is fifteen years old. I realize this only when I’ve read twohundred pages and it’s a shock. He has experience, from years of running and lying, so that he sometimes seems a lot older. Still, he has innocence in him, but I believe it’s hope for normalcy that keeps living inside of him. So while he seems older, at moments he seems younger than fifteen. Is it the teenager fact, or a fault in the writing?
Besides that, Four seems to be apart from the “normal” people around him. He sees things a little differently and yet again, the describtion blows my mind away. Yet, he doesn’t go into much detail and at points he seems a little emotionless and doesn’t pull through.
Four also should have experience with running away and being always on his guard. Still, he makes decisions that confuse me. Even without all his hide-I-must-attitude, he should have more common sense. It truly shocked me.
But without the little times I’m confused by him, he tells the story so convincingly that I’m in la-la land the whole way.
Henri, his mentor, Cêpan, is lovely. He is not the usual older side-kick type, gruffy with a stubborn streak. No, he has an emotional past and he truly cares for Four. He’s strong, but makes mistakes too and he admits them, letting Four save himself. It’s perfect how he isn’t perfect and lets Four in, lets the reader in, showing how even he doesn’t know anything. For that, he makes up with trying to be ready for all the possibilities. He’s strong inside and outside and it’s clearly for a reason that Four looks up to him. Plus, he is entertaining and full of surprises, which are both a blast to read.
The side characters are written well. You get a good picture of them in the moment, as to what they are doing and why Four thinks they are doing it. But it stays there. We are not given more background about them. And it’s fine, but two more major characters have the same faults.
Sarah Hart, the love of Four’s life is a little one-dimensional. She’s described as so perfect that sweet that I’m starting to taste the sugar overload in my mouth. Her relationship with Four seems so natural it’s unnatural: from the start of their relationship, they seem to jump right into the part where they act like they’ve been married for fifty years. Color me going “Huh?” The way she takes all the surprises thrown at her, is not really realistic. She just goes oh, alright, I believe it because it’s you saying so. Only in the few last chapters, does her character grow into the boots she’s given as the love of an alien.
Mark James is a huge disappointment also. He seems to just wake up one morning and think, hey, I’ve been a dick. Maybe I shouldn’t be anymore. And then everybody go with that, when before, they have been all uu, shame on you, jock-boy! Yeah, not believing it, I was really expecting a lot more or maybe a little more proof about how the waking up happened or more him and the other characters interacting, but there was very little about that.
Let’s talk some awesome characters at once. Sam Goode? The best friend rocks. He really has an emotional past, just like the aliens do and he acts it. If he makes changes they’re explained. His actions are all given reasons, as in that if he jumps, here’s the reason why. He also grows in the book, standing up for what he believes. He becomes stronger, learning from his mistakes. Four doesn’t really do that, but luckily Sam is there. He has an open mind and a big heart, and truly, he’s the best choice for Four’s best friend. But hey, there’s a reason behind it all!
Bernie Kosar! In the beginning he seems a little random, but soon it will be weird without him, which is exactly what Four thinks about him. This little dog here is quite possibly the best animal in books I have ever read. He’s there for Four, protecting him and standing by his side. But he has also depth in him, beyond what a dog should have. He’s brave, optimistic and loyal, caring for those he’s claimed as his family. Of course, the plot won’t let him go, but you never think him just as a dog, as you shouldn’t. And plsu that he has a place in the plot, he’s a great entertainment factor!
Last but not least is Six. She’s everything Four isn’t and as she first comes into the picture, I’m clapping gleefully. She’s strong, at ease with herself and ready to fight to the death, if she has to. It’s clear that we are not told everything about her, but the glimpses we see, prove that there is just as much inner strength as there is outer. I can’t wait to find out more about her.
The aliens are important in the book. They are not the most impressing things out there, something we haven’t seen before, but a few things are. There is something very real about them, and the danger the Mogadorians manifest is especially real and hits pretty close to home. The history for both of the alien races is touching, like everything else in the book. It makes an impact and hopefully makes you think.
But as we are slowly shown the past part by part, it is still made clear that we don’t know everything. And that just makes you drool for the next book.
The plot isn’t guessable and it moves nicely, constantly running. I myself was so blown away the describing, that all the new curves hit me unexpected. There is always some new trouble that Four must face. Sometimes he is alone with them, sometimes he is backed up by others. Sometimes the problems are more on the emotional side or sometimes they are literally galactical. The variety has you on your toes and I think it’s good. I personally love it, if the book surprises me.
I am Number Four is definitely a story about growing up and hope. It’s about standing up for what you believe, about protecting the people you love. While there are other books about these same things, there is something about this one that captures you. It’s so emotional, as I’ve said already, that it’s touching. The need to grow up and fight is strong enough to touch the reader from it’s pages. It might be in the writing, but it could be Four. To me at least, there is something about that guy that makes me want to keep reading.
Basically the book is a galactic ride from the beginning to the end. Maybe the best and the worst part is that it doesn’t end here.