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Book Review

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (a pseudonym for authors Jobie Hughes and James Frey)has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the "Lorien Legacies" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Ten years ago, the Mogadorians, a race of violent, powerful beasts, completely obliterated the resources and people on the peaceful planet of Lorien. Nine children, members of the Garde, a race of supernaturally gifted Loriens, escaped to Earth. The nine were given a charm of protection and a number. The Mogadorians that hunt them can only kill them in numerical order. As each Lorien child is murdered, those that remain receive a scar around their ankle so they know how many are left. Number Four receives his third scar at a high school party and flees home to escape the area with his Keeper, Henri. Keepers are the adult guardians and mentors of the Garde.

Henri gives Number Four a new name, John Smith, as they make their way to Paradise, Ohio, the 22nd town they've hidden in during their time on Earth. On his first day at his new school, John meets Sarah Hart, and he immediately develops a crush on the beautiful and friendly girl. Unfortunately, that makes him the enemy of her former boyfriend, Mark James.

When Mark confronts John after class, John runs away, not because he fears the football player, but because he realizes that he is developing his Legacies, the supernatural powers that will help him defeat the Mogadorians. John hides in a dark room and waits for Henri to pick him up. John convinces Henri not to leave Paradise because of the incident at school, and the two begin training so that he can develop his powers.

Although Mark continues to harass John, the Lorien develops a relationship with Sarah and another boy, Sam. Sam's father disappeared when he was young, and the scrawny boy secretly believes aliens abducted his dad. When one of the conspiracy newsletters that Sam reads runs a story about a race of aliens called Mogadorians intent on taking over Earth, Henri decides to investigate. John worries when Henri fails to return from a meeting he had with the newsletter's authors and enlists Sam's help to find him.

John enters the house Henri said he'd be visiting, while Sam watches a man who lives there. John threatens another resident of the home to tell him where Henri is being kept and eventually finds his Keeper tied to a chair in the basement. Before they can escape, John must use his supernatural abilities to save Sam. He questions one of Henri's captors and learns that he received a call from someone with information about the Mogadorians and the numbered children. The man was never heard from again. The contact number he'd left with them had been disconnected. The day after they ran the story in their newsletter, three strangers came to the house, threatening their lives and mentally torturing them to keep them from running any more of the story.

The Mogadorians arrive, but John uses his supernatural abilities to get himself, Henri and Sam away before the Mogadorians can attack them. Henri and John confide the truth of who they are to Sam, who promises to keep everything a secret and to help in any way he can.

Although worried that the Mogadorians are close, Henri agrees not to leave Ohio so John can continue in school. His relationship with Sarah intensifies, and he continues to work on developing his powers. He is surprised when Mark invites him and Sam to a party at his house. The party gets out of hand, and the house catches on fire when someone accidently knocks over a candle. Everyone gets out safely except for Sarah and the family's two dogs. John, who is immune to fire, sneaks back into the house and helps them escape. Unfortunately, someone has witnessed the rescue. A mysterious note is faxed to the school for John, asking if he is Number Four. Someone also posts the story and a video of the rescue on the Internet. John refuses to escape with Henri until he makes sure Sarah is safe from the Mogadorians. He finds her alone in the school's darkroom after hours. Before he can leave, Mogadorian scouts arrive. As John and Sarah try to sneak out of the school, they are caught. At first John believes it is a Mogadorian who has caught them, but he discovers it is actually Number Six, a girl a few years older than him, who has tracked him down in order for them to fight their enemies. Henri and Mark also arrive at the school, and together the five battle the evil horde that has surrounded them. In the end, Henri is killed, but the Mogadorians are temporarily defeated. John and Number Six gather their belongings and leave Ohio, along with Sam. John promises Sarah that he will one day return for her.

Christian Beliefs

None

Other Belief Systems

The planet Lorien began to die about 25,000 years ago because of its inhabitants' misuse of things. The people of Lorien committed themselves to preserving their planet by getting rid of all negative influences, such as chemicals, weapons and pollution. Eventually the Garde evolved, John believes, as a reward for the Loriens' devotion to the planet. Loriens have visited Earth in the past, and many historical figures are said to be the product of human/Loric unions, including: Buddha, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. The nine Garde children are protected by a magical charm that determines the order in which they can be killed.

Authority Roles

Garde children are raised by their grandparents, as their parents are still developing their Legacy powers. John has intermittent visions of his childhood and fond memories of the grandparents who raised him. He also recalls his father, who often visited, even though that was unusual for Garde families. Garde children are assigned an adult Cêpan or Keeper at a young age. This Keeper devotes his life to the child in order to train the youngster when he develops his powers. As John's Keeper, Henri is devoted to the young man. Henri had to let his own family perish on Lorien in order to save John's life. He is seen as strict but loving with his charge.

The principal of the high school is more concerned with publicity for the football team than discipline. He overlooks Mark's harassment of John.

Profanity/Violence

The dialogue is peppered throughout with profanity including s--t, d--n, b--ch, a--, a--hole and bulls---. Other objectionable words include d--k, p-ssed, sucked and friggin. God's name is used with oh and thank. Jesus' name is also used as an exclamation.

The book opens with the violent murder of a Garde teenager and his Cêpan by the Mogadorians. John has little memory of the destruction of his planet until he comes into his Legacies. Then Henri uses a crystal to open John's mind so he can see what happened on Lorien when it was destroyed. The Mogadorians are bigger than humans. Their teeth are sharp, as if they've been filed, and their eyes are an unnatural magenta, almost black, color. They attacked Lorien with guns, bombs, grenades and beasts — killing everything in their path, including children. John envisions several brave battles as members of the Garde, including his father, fought a giant beast. He also sees the masses of dead bodies and burnt land when the invasion was over.

When Mark and his friends on the football team attack John, Sarah and Sam on a Halloween hayride, John uses his supernatural powers to save them. He hurls several boys into trees and lifts another up by the neck. Punches are thrown. John also uses threats and violence to save Henri from the conspiracy theorists that hold him hostage. He ties one to a chair and levitates another upside down, threatening to let him drop to the floor. The conspiracy theorists attack John with a baseball bat and a gun, but he manages to avoid being hurt. One of the theorists talks about being threatened by the Mogadorians and about the visions the aliens forced him to experience: He had to see and feel his death and the deaths of his loved ones. The aliens also carried dog-like animals that appeared strong enough to devour the men.

In the final battle of the book, the Mogadorians and their beasts attack the school. John and his friends are stabbed with knives, electrocuted and attacked by giant beasts. One of the beasts bites a Mogadorian in half. John's pet dog, which is actually a shape-shifting animal from Lorien, is almost eaten by one of the monsters, and Henri is killed. Sarah saves John's life by stabbing one of the Mogadorians.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

John and Sarah kiss numerous times. John describes his physical and emotional response to Sarah's kisses. When Sarah returns from a vacation, the two kiss on John's bed and engage in heavy petting until Henri arrives home. Several kids, including Sam and his girlfriend, make out during a party. Sam believes he and his girlfriend started a fire when they accidently knocked over a candle while kissing.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: Many kids get drunk at Mark's party, some to the point of vomiting.

Breaking the law: Sam aids John in rescuing Henri by driving his father's truck when he doesn't own a driver's license.

Producers often use a book as a springboard for a movie idea or to earn a specific rating. Because of this, a movie may differ from the novel. To better understand how this book and movie differ, compare the book review with Plugged In's movie review for I am Number Four.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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