I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies #1)
by Pittacus Lore
narrated by Neil Kaplan
(YA, contemporary fantasy)
Before I get into this review, a disclaimer: I am not the target age for this book. I came to this conclusion after the main character’s second kiss. (Or so.) Many, MANY of the kisses between the MC and his girlfriend in this book are described as “lingering”. Drove. Me. Crazy. But then I stopped to think about it. The MC is a 15-year-old boy. I am not. I have had lots of kisses in my life. A 15-year-old (presumably) would not have. I was about half-way through listening to this book when I got annoyed enough about the sometimes juvenile descriptions to consider not finishing the book. And then I remembered that it was written with a juvenile MC. Fifteen is younger than most YAs I read. This is almost not even a YA book. And it shows. But, having realized that, I was better able to ignore my annoyances with repetition, and just enjoy the plot.
Well… at least mostly enjoy the plot. I have to admit that it was very predictable for me. There were only a few things that I didn’t see coming. And there were things I anticipated which sadly didn’t happen. But… the things I was hoping for wouldn’t have made as good a young-YA book, I think. They’d be better in an older-YA or an adult novel. To explain without spoilers: all books need conflict. But if you put in a big, let’s say fatal, conflict mid-way through the book, you will need a bigger conflict for the climax of the novel. And yet, perhaps in this age level book you don’t want the conflicts to be as big as some readers (say, me) expect. I mean, I have to remember that even Harry Potter didn’t have any on-screen non-villain deaths until book 4.
Okay. So far I’ve only really talked about things that annoyed me. What did I like about the book? Well, the two main characters seemed pretty believable. I did enjoy their interactions. I also liked the way the powers manifested. That was cool. Some of the secondary characters were fun, though they all only seemed mostly believable. Then again, it’s been a while since I was in high school, so I guess things could have changed. But still… maybe not quite that much. One thing that was really believable was the temper tantrum that the MC threw at one point when he thought he would have to leave. That probably felt the most real of the entire book.
I listened to the audiobook for this one, which is probably one reason why I “read” the book straight through instead of skimming. The narration was perfectly satisfactory. I know that sounds bad, but it’s not meant to be. It wasn’t spectacular narration, but it wasn’t so bad I returned the book after 20 minutes. (Yes, I have done that when warranted.) I found the writing style and quality satisfactory, and the narration perfectly matched that. I’m not going to go explicitly search out more of Mr. Kaplan’s narrations, but neither will I avoid them.
So as a wrap-up… would I recommend this book? Maybe. If you are the target age and like fantasy and/or aliens, probably. If you are an adult, I can only recommend it if you are able to remember who it was written for – fifteen-year-old boys – while you read it. I will not be continuing the series, even though from the teaser chapter at the end of the audiobook one (or more?) of the girls shares narration with Number Four in the following books. I enjoyed the premise well enough for one book, but I am not willing to read the next books with the mindset I would need in order to enjoy them. There are so many books out there written for older audiences (even just older teens!) with writing styles I know I enjoy for me to read more of a series that isn’t in a style I enjoy. It’s a good premise, though, so I hope that anyone who thinks it might fit their (or a family member’s) reading preferences will give it a try.