An I AM NUMBER FOUR Review (Of Sorts)

This I AM NUMBER FOUR thing is a very interesting story — perhaps for all the wrong reasons, but interesting nonetheless. The book was sold in May of 2009 for a September 2010 release. Written by Pittacus Lore (a pen name for the team of controversial author James Frey and much younger co-writer Jobie Hughes), the book had a cool — and easily marketable — premise: teen aliens living on Earth hunted by the bad guys. It’s been done before, but it works. I could understand, especially given the author, why it was such a big deal. However, what I found especially interesting at the time was that in addition to buying the manuscript, they were going to adapt it into a movie scheduled for release only a few months after it landed in readers’ hands.

Because of the premise, and the curiosity factor, I picked up the book last September to give it a whirl. I only made it about halfway through (the writing wasn’t my cup of tea) and struggled to understand what the big deal was. Judging by other reader reviews, I wasn’t exactly alone. Still, being the movie nerd that I am, I went to the theater this week to see the adaptation. Yes, I gave it another chance to wow me. Sometimes these things take time, right?

Like with the book, I was under-whelmed… to say the least. It opened and closed with a whiz-bang intro and climax, but the middle was a long slog through Twilight-esque teenage romance, much like the book. I know, I know. I was a little foolish to expect something different.

This is my genre. I’m the guy they’re pitching this series towards, so why has it left me cold? And what did they see in this manuscript back in 2009? Was it nothing more than name recognition? Marketability? Plenty of huge books come out each year without attached movie deals (Michael Bay movie deals, to boot). What convinced the head honchos to put so much behind an unproven series, by a known (but not in this genre) author, when there are so many other long-standing YA sci-fi series begging for this kind of movie deal? I mean, ARTEMIS FOWL, MAXIMUM RIDE. I get those. This I AM NUMBER FOUR thing is just a head scratcher. And to cap off its story, the movie version under-performed at the box office. What does this all mean folks? (I ask in all honesty because typing up this post has made me even more confused!)

Nick, who wants to be Number 500. Nice, clean, and minimal chance of dying by evil alien hands.

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3 responses to “An I AM NUMBER FOUR Review (Of Sorts)

  1. Okay, here’s the thing:
    I had to read this for the Cybils, and I called in the rare “50 page minimum” rule on it. The writing was lacking, the plot was that… indecipherable. It seemed overwrought and pointless, and I really didn’t believe the love interest — people — even alien people — are more complex than a lot of what was shown.

    And yet, even *I* am not quite clearly articulating the “why” of its suck. I have really no idea, and that baffles me even more. It just… didn’t… work.

  2. I love Artemis Fowl, love Alex Rider, and I’m always on the lookout for a good “boy” series that will interest my son. Then the trailers started running with Alex Pettyfer who played Alex Rider a few years ago, and my son and I were ready to devour the book and watch the movie (despite all the controversy). But I downloaded the first chapter to my Kindle and we weren’t impressed. Now reading your review and Tanita’s comment, I’m seriously wondering what went wrong. Both the book and the movie should have been great, right?

  3. Anonymous

    Wow, thanks for this review, Nick. Now I’ve heard completely contradictory things and that just makes me want to find out for myself. (Though I’ll have to get it from the library because I am NOT going to financially support that particular enterprise, not any more than I have to, anyway.)

    I think branding (rather than story) may have a lot more to do with it than we would like it to. :(

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