I Am Number Four
|I Am Number Four|
The American cover of I Am Number Four
|Author||Pittacus Lore, aka James Frey & Jobie Hughes|
|Publication date||August 3, 2010|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|Followed by||The Power of Six|
I Am Number Four is a young adult science fiction novel and movie by Pittacus Lore (the pseudonym of James Frey and Jobie Hughes) and the first book in the Lorien Legacies series. The book was published by HarperCollins on August 3, 2010, and spent seven successive weeks at #1 on the children's chapter of The New York Times bestseller list.
The novel is the first of a proposed six-book series.
In the fictional universe of the series, Earth is one of eighteen life-sustaining planets in the universe. Two others are Lorien and Mogadore.
Lorien society comprises two castes: the Garde, who have supernatural powers (called legacies), which they use in battle; and the Cêpan, who are responsible for the bureaucracy and other mundane tasks. Lorien also has shapeshifting creatures, called chihmæra. The Garde are much stronger, faster, and more agile than humans. Their legacies, which develop during their teenage years, include telekinesis and other powers that vary among individuals.
Lorien has been invaded by the belligerent Mogadorians, who coveted its resources. During the invasion, a rocket was sent from Lorien to Earth, containing nine Garde children, each accompanied by a Cêpan to act as guardian and to help them when their legacies develop. On Earth they live in disguise, hunted by the Mogadorians who have followed them. Each of the children is protected by a charm, and, so long as they remain apart, they can only be killed in order, one through nine. Whenever one of them is killed, each of the others receives a scar.
At the time the story begins, the Garde children have lived on Earth for some years and are now teenagers. Numbers One, Two, and Three have been killed, and Number Four knows he is next.
In a prelude, we read of the killing of one of the Garde children — presumably Number Three — by Mogadorians.
The bulk of the story is told in the first-person by Number Four, who takes the name John Smith. As the story begins, he and his guardian, Henri, learn of the death of Number Three and move to Paradise, Ohio, assuming new identities. There, John befriends conspiracy theorist Sam Goode and is 'adopted' by a dog identified by its name tag as Bernie Kosar. He also meets and is attracted to fellow student and amateur photographer Sarah Hart. Sarah's ex-boyfriend, football player Mark James, is a bully who torments both John and Sam.
During the Halloween festival, Sam mentions that he knows about Mogadorians from a magazine, They Walk Among Us, alarming both John and Henri. Mark and his friends organize a nasty surprise during the haunted hayride: Sarah, John and Sam are left stranded in the woods, where Mark plans to beat John up. John uses his legacies to fend off his attackers in humiliating fashion, and rescues Sarah. In the darkness Sarah does not see John use his legacies, and he quietly warns Mark not to talk (or let his friends talk) about what happened. It is not clear how much Sam saw.
Sarah and John's relationship develops. Henri continues training John to use his legacies, now with an increasing sense of urgency. Henri is unsettled, and tells John that it is not safe to stay. He is also concerned John is late developing his telekinesis, a power he will need to fight the Mogadorians. Later, it is revealed Sam had indeed seen enough to arouse his suspicions, but John allays them by bluffingly 'admitting' to being an alien. He finds out more about the magazine Sam reads, borrowing a copy. Sam speaks of his belief that his father was abducted by aliens.
Henri discovers where the magazine is printed, and drives the two-hour car trip to Athens, Ohio, to find out more. John attends Thanksgiving dinner with Sarah's family, but worries about Henri, who does not answer text messages. In his agitated state, John's telekinetic power manifests, though uncontrolledly, and he leaves. He calls Sam for help, and they take Sam's father's long-unused truck and head for Athens, where they succeed in rescuing Henri. During the rescue, Sam is made fully aware of John's and Henri's alien secret, and John's legacies develop significantly. On their return, Henri insists they must leave Paradise. John refuses, using his newfound powers to express his adamance, and Henri relents.
Some months pass, during which John trains in the use of his legacies. Henri gradually relaxes as John becomes more adept. At a party at Mark's house, a major fire breaks out, trapping Sarah: John uses his powers to rescue her. He reveals his secret to Sarah, and they lie to police and a reporter about what happened. Later on, John also lies to Henri, in order not to reveal how much he has told Sarah.
John's lies are revealed when a video is released on YouTube. Henri is furious, and demands they leave immediately. John again uses his powers to stop him, and races to the school, desperate in the knowledge Sarah is in danger. He finds Sarah, but the Mogadorians have already arrived. The Mogadorians have brought enormous beasts called Piken, and smaller, still deadly, creatures called Krauls. These creatures are sent to track and kill the Loric. John and Sarah are joined by Number Six (who has been looking for them since Three's death) and later by Henri, Mark, and Bernie Kosar. John sends Mark off, exhorting him to protect Sarah. A furious battle ensues, during which Six exhibits powers of invisibility and control of the weather, and Bernie Kosar is revealed to be a Chimæra. Chimæra are able to grow to roughly the size of a Piken. Sam arrives partway through the battle.
John defeats a soldier, Bernie Kosar battles a Piken, and at key moments John is helped by his human friends, but in the end they are depleted and weakened by numbers and power. Six is wounded and taken to relative safety. John uses an ability he was barely aware of to communicate with a beast brought by the Mogadorians and to turn it against them. Henri is killed, but before dying exhorts John to read a letter he left for him. John survives, though he is very weak, and the Mogadorians are defeated.
John leaves Paradise, along with Number Six, Sam, and Bernie Kosar, after promising to return to Sarah.
The book received mixed reviews, but was popular with its target audience. It "made it onto the [New York] Times best-seller list for children’s chapter books, but it failed to make a larger cultural impression."
The film adaptation was released on February 18, 2011. It stars Alex Pettyfer as John Smith/Number Four, Dianna Agron as Sarah Hart, Callan McAuliffe as Sam Goode, Teresa Palmer as Number Six, Timothy Olyphant as Henri and Jake Abel as Mark James. The film scored a 32% on Rotten Tomatoes, which said "It's positioned as the start of a franchise, but I Am Number Four's familiar plot and unconvincing performances add up to one noisy, derivative, and ultimately forgettable sci-fi thriller." The movie had a world-wide gross of $145,982,798 and a budget of $50 million, but still fell short of expectations.
New York Times review critic Jeannette Catsoulis wrote of the film, "Sluggish and derivative, “I Am Number Four” is another elaborate puberty metaphor with superpowers substituting for testosterone: when John gets overexcited, rays of light shoot from his palms. He should be thankful it’s not hair."
A DVD of the film was released on May 24, 2011.
This series includes both Main Titles and Novellas called The Lost Files. The novellas were originally released only as eBooks; however, The Legacies is a compilation of the first 3 novellas and is available in paperback. Additionally, there are 3 Extras found on the official website giving additional background information about the characters Eight, Sam, and Sarah.
- I am Number Four - Published July 26, 2010
- The Power of Six - Published August 23, 2011
- The Rise of Nine - Published August 21, 2012
- The Fall of Five - Published August 27, 2013 
The Lost Files Novellas
- Six's Legacy - eBook released July 26, 2011 
- Nine's Legacy - eBook released February 28, 2012 
- The Fallen Legacies - eBook released July 24, 2012
- The Search For Sam - eBook released December 26, 2012
- The Last Days of Lorien - eBook released April 9, 2013
- The Forgotten Ones - eBook released July 23, 2013
- Five's Legacy - eBook will be released February 11, 2014
Extras available online:
- Discover Eight's Origin
- Sam's Journal
- Sarah's Journal
- Pittacus Lore's Transmissions
- Rich, Motoko. "James Frey and Co-Writer Sell Series to HarperCollins". New York Times. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
- "Best Sellers". The New York Times. January 30, 2011. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
- Rich, Mokoto (June 26, 2009). "James Frey Collaborating on a Novel for Young Adults, First in a Series". The New York Times. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
- "James Frey's Fiction Factory". New York Books. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
- "I Am Number Four Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoesh 46378398761-92009087-6578855359754-6862356863683-935620487503572389. Flixster. Retrieved 2012-03-13.
- Fritz, Ben; Kaufman, Amy (February 17, 2011). "Movie Projector: 'I Am Number Four' to be No. 1 at holiday weekend box office [Updated]". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved February 18, 2011.
- Catsoulis, Jeannette (17 February 2011). "Tales Of Teenage Aliens". NYTimes. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
- "Three are dead. I am number four". HarperCollins. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
- "I am number four". Indigo. Enrich your life. HarperCollins. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
- "Lorien Legacies". Ask. Wikipedia. Retrieved 14 March 2013.