04 January 2012

Review: I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is the best 2 star (closer to a 1.5, really) book I have ever read. There is so much that is terribly, horribly wrong with this book from start to finish that I really couldn't stand it, but it was ultimately engaging in that Mega Shark v. Giant Octopus sort of trainwreck way that I breezed through this like no one's business.

Short plot: our protagonist is the 4th of 9 aliens from another planet. They're being trailed by some evil, resource-hogging aliens, and Earth is next on the list. The 9 must be killed in order. The bad guys want Earth's resources, too. Yeah.

First, the writing. Just really nothing special at all, almost offensive in its blandness. Given the publishing house that threw this together is sketchy as all get out (not that we should be surprised that James Frey of A Million Little Pieces would be involved in something sketchy), there's no surprise that this appears to have been sold as a movie before the book was even done. It reads like a movie, it feels like a movie, it's paced like a movie. Just not a very good one.

And the choices! Holy crap, the choices! First, for a "special" alien, John is just dumb as a rock. I almost don't want to mention the dog in fear of giving something away, but if you've ever, you know, read a book or watched a movie or seen a television program, the moment the dog arrives on the screen, you're 99% certain of what the deal is with the dog even if the details aren't predictable. Dog ex machina, or something? Bad analogy, but the second part is that the book is absolutely littered with big neon signs of foreshadowing that provide no mystery and no joy when they're revealed with huge clues that essentially scream "Hey, hey, look, over here, it's important you pay attention here! Seriously!" Just shameful writing.

I think my whole problem with this book is just how blatantly obvious it is that it's a cash grab intended for an eventual/intentional film. It's almost like reading a film novelization without it actually being a film just yet. I'm not sure I'd have noticed it quite as clearly if I wasn't aware of Full Fathom Five's overall agenda, but it would truly be hard not to.

It's less a story than an event, and that...I don't know. We already have candy in the form of books, and this makes the candy look artful in comparison. I don't know how to recommend this - it should be read because it's such a spectacle, but I don't know whether it's just good for what it is or I've just become too cynical.

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