Pursued by the people who destroyed his planet, and coping with life as a human teenager – nothing’s easy for Number Four…
Get a hundred pages into I Am Number Four, and you can see exactly what attracted Transformers director Michael Bay to the novel – it’s got all the ingredients of a summer blockbuster, albeit one that owes a lot to Smallville. Young attractive central characters, giant beasts out to get them, morphing creatures protecting them and one almighty battle sequence that takes up most of the last quarter of the novel… all are present and correct.
There are very few original ideas in here (I gave up counting the different influences after the first dozen chapters), but as with so many of the current crop of young adult novels, it’s how the story’s told that makes this book stand apart. Narrated by the eponymous Number Four, the novel often feels like the Superboy story, as told by Clark Kent. Adopting the name John, Four has to deal with the usual high school fazing when he arrives in a new town, at the same time keeping an eye out for the Mogadorians who are intent on wiping out all the survivors of his planet.
There are few surprises – dei ex machina appear on cue, one of the lead characters dies, John and his human girlfriend are constantly interrupted – but it keeps the reader engaged.
Verdict: Clichéd in parts but an enjoyable light read. 6/10