In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now. The Nine had to separate and go into hiding.
The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next.
I AM NUMBER FOUR is the thrilling launch of a series about an exceptional group of teens as they struggle to outrun their past, discover their future—and live a normal life on Earth.
That might be the single best hook for any book I’ve ever seen. It certainly hooked me and I bought it based on that alone. The story started off strong and only got stronger. It’s one of the few books that has given me chills that wasn’t written by Stephen King. But it’s not gorey suspense in the tradition of King, it’s just good, screaming alien fun. Well, maybe not fun so much as thrilling, like a rollercoaster ride that is more turns and twists than the slogging uphill climb.
Number Four, also known as John Smith, is on the run from the Mogadorians, or Mogs, and moves to Paradise, Ohio to hide out. It’s hard enough being the new kid at school and even harder when you’re just a little bit strange. John’s legacies, his alien abilities, begin to manifest as he hides out in small town America.
Add to that the fact that the school’s penultimate “it” girl likes him, much to the anger of her football star ex-boyfriend, and the Mogs aren’t the only thing John needs to watch over his shoulder for.
The plot moves along at a clipped pace as John and Henri, his guardian, keep a watchful eye out for aliens, John’s abilities begin to develop, and oh yeah, the school bully wants a piece of him. John befriends nerdy Sam, whose father disappeared and Sam is sure aliens are involved. Even John thinks he’s a bit out there, but it doesn’t stop the two from becoming best friends.
The plot continues to build until the Hollywood blockbuster climax that never lets up. The romantic subplot is sweet and angsty as only a teen boy’s perspective can bring.
The characters aren’t particularly deep, but it’s not a character-driven story. This is about the plot and the plot brings it, so it’s okay that we don’t have solidly developed characters. There is enough to them that they feel real and their motives are clear, never acting against character.
I Am Number Four is a fun thrill-ride and is difficult to put down.