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I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore


I Am Number Four
(Book 1, Lorien Legacies)

Pittacus Lore (pseudonym)
Lorien Legacies Homepage
Date:  August 1, 2010 (hardback)
496 pages
Lexile : 700L
ISBN-10: 0061969575
ISBN-13: 978-0061969577
 HarperCollins; reprint edition
(Aug. 23, 2011)


The Lorien Legacies series is co-authored by Jobie Hughes and James Frey.

Book Overview:

I Am Number Four is the story of Daniel/John/you choose his name, an alien on the run who is hiding on Earth as he waits to mature enough to join with others like him to avenge his home planet of Lorien.  Originally, there were nine young people, but three have already been dispatched by the enemy.  Now, John (we’ll stick with that name to avoid confusion) must hide in plain sight, blending with the natives of Earth.  The plot has an interesting premise, and you definitely want John to live, but…

Positive Content:

John is accompanied to Earth by Henri, a mentor/handler of sorts.  They belong to the same race, but you might say that John supplies the brawn, and Henri supplies the brains.  Unfortunately for our hero, Henri is easier to like than John.  Henri has lost everything — his love, his home — yet, he clings to hope against all odds and doesn’t allow himself to get bitter.  He is completely dedicated to the task of keeping John alive and helping him master his powers.  John, on the other hand, is a pretty typical teenage boy — with super powers.

Content to Consider: (Spoilers)


  • One of the nine alien teenagers and his keeper are killed with a sword in the prologue.
  • Mark, the star football player (of course), and his goons can’t see John without making threats, verbal and non-verbal.
  • Mark can’t accept that his ex-girlfriend, Sarah, who used to be a cheerleader (of course), is his EX-girlfriend.  He’s openly possessive and definitely fits the pattern of a future wife beater.
  • Mark is a bully, and his friends help.  Throwing food, putting manure in lockers, and attacking John and his friends are all part of Mark’s plans to make John’s life a misery.
  • John knees one of Mark’s friends in the crotch after the food-throwing incident.
  • There’s a big fight that pits John against most of the football team; nobody is permanently injured.
  • Sam threatens John with a gun that he has in his room; it is unloaded.  Sam is a minor.  Sam uses the gun later to kill an alien.
  • During John’s rescue of Henri, a gun is discharged by one of Henri’s captors.  Henri threatens one of the men with the gun, but John intervenes.  John uses his powers on the captors in frightening ways to get information.  At one point, he chokes one of the men using telekinesis.
  • One of the captors tries to attack John with a baseball bat.
  • John uses his telekinetic powers on Henri, not to threaten him but to get his own way.  Very mature, John.
  • At several points in the books, John has visions of the battle scenes he witnessed as a child.
  • The final showdown scene is very violent and described in graphic detail, although the Mogadorian aliens conveniently turn to ash when they are killed.
  • People die; I won’t reveal his/her/their identity here.

Crude, Vulgar, or Profane Language: PERVASIVE

  • Hell is a favorite word in this book.
  • D— is less frequent, but still gets a workout.
  • Several times, boys put each other down by referring to each other as a part of the male anatomy (also a four-letter word) and at least once as a female dog.
  • Sarah isn’t shy about calling Mark derogatory names, usually body part names.
  • God and Jesus are not mentioned, as profanity, or otherwise.

Sexual Content: MODERATE

  • John and Sarah kiss frequently throughout the book.
  • John and Sarah have a heavy breathing session in his bedroom.
  • Even though John thinks he’s “in love” with Sarah, Henri cautions him not to get too attached to her or to allow Sarah to get too attached to him.  Loric/human relations and procreation are possible, but unwise.
  • A couple at a party make out in full view of everyone; another couple are upstairs on a bed.

Drug/Alcohol: OCCASIONAL

  • Why?  Mark’s parents are out of town, and he throws a party, complete with beer.  John, Sarah, and Sam are invited, and for unknown reasons, they decide to go.  Everyone at the party is underage.
  • Someone shows up with vodka.
  • Someone else gets drunk enough to vomit and another person passes out.

Negative Content:

  • Henri and John must lie and mislead people all of the time to cover their tracks as they hide from the enemy and to explain away John’s powers.  They use fake ID’s, change names, invent cover stories, etc.  Henri poses as John’s dad.
  • Every once and a while, John lies to Henri.
  • The high school principal looks the other way to protect his star football player, Mark.
  • Police property is destroyed during the incident in the woods.
  • Sam and John drive to another town; neither boy has a license to drive or even a learner’s permit.
  • John defies Henri when Henri wants to leave town.
  • Henri creates false birth certificates.  Haha.  The names on the documents are James Hughes and Jobie Frey (a play on the names of the authors who wrote the book).

Spiritual Content:

  • The authors credit Loric / human offspring with being the greatest “humans” who ever lived, including people like Aristotle and Einstein.   In addition, Buddha and the Greek gods were all “real” and had one Loric parent.  The authors stop short of including Jesus Christ in their list.
  • Evolution is used to explain the development of the different strengths of the Loric race of aliens.
  • Otherwise, there is no religious or spiritual content.

My Personal Opinions:

My advice?  Take the age rating for the movies seriously, and don’t waste your money or your time on the books.

The premise of the book seems original.  After all, it’s about the final, desperate attempt of a race to escape complete annihilation by jettisoning some of their young just before their home planet is decimated.  No, wait, maybe that’s not entirely original.

At any rate, the execution of the book doesn’t live up to the potential of the authors’ idea for the story.   For one thing, all the stereotypes are present:  the bully football star and his mindless teammates, the hot cheerleader with the golden heart (now reformed and doing good deeds), the egghead sidekick who is into all things alien, the older Jedi master (Henri) and his young Padawan (John) fleeing across the universe to get away from the Evil Empire until the young man masters his powers.  There are even glowing swords.  One or two of those hacks would have been acceptable, but putting all of them together made the story seem canned and predictable.

The story is written at about a 700L level, easily within the reach of fourth grade readers; however, the language and content are not in keeping with that age group.

One other thing that I found both annoying and distracting while I read the book is the present tense.  “‘This seems foolish to me,’ I say.”  “Over his shoulder, watching with morbid curiosity, stands Sam.”  Yeah, I know it’s been done before, but the whole book reads like a screenplay.  Ah, maybe that’s the point.  I Am Number Four is a movie, released in February 2011, by DreamWorks Studios  (see trailer below), rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for language.  My advice?  Take the age rating for the movies seriously, and don’t waste your money or your time on the books.

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About the Author

Kathrese McKee started life as a Systems Engineer at EDS, spent time in real estate, taught middle grade Reading and ESL in Texas, and settled down to blog and write speculative fiction for Young Adults.

As a teacher, she fell in love with books written for Teens and Young Adults. Her favorite books are “coming of age” stories about young people on the difficult road of self-discovery.


  1. I’ve never really had much of an urge to read this seires either, I’m not sure why. I did thoroughly enjoy the movie, but a lot of that could have been attributed to my staring at Alex Pettyfer 😉 I think I’m going to continue to pass on this seires, the uneven pacing and the lack of spark in the romance makes me think I should just stick with the books I’m dying to read!

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