Book Review: The Power of Six, Pittacus Lore (2012)

November 5th, 2012 2:10 pm by Kelly Garbato

Eh.

three out of five stars

* Warning: moderate spoilers follow! *

Having recently read – and thoroughly enjoyedI Am Number Four, I promptly ordered the three other books in the Lorien Legacies series (The Power of Six, The Rise of Nine, and The Lost Files). Much to my disappointment, The Power of Six proved underwhelming at best.

Book #2 in the Lorien Legacies picks up where I Am Number Four left off. It’s several weeks after the epic showdown at the high school. John, Sam, and Six are in hiding and on the run from both the US authorities (which has labeled them terrorists) and the Mogadorians. They flee, they fight; they flee and fight some more. They hide and train. After learning that Sam’s father was an ally to the Garde – and may have stashed valuable information and supplies in an underground bunker – they return to Paradise, Ohio, to retrieve the goods. Unsurprisingly, both the FBI and the “Mogs” discover them; after another skirmish, during which John loses his Chest to the Mogadorian soldiers, John and Sam are apprehended by the police and jailed. Another skirmish, this time with the Mogs laying siege to the police department. After escaping, John and Sam separate from Six in order to retrieve his Chest – most likely stashed in Mog HQ in a West Virginian cave – while Six travels to Spain to help who she suspects is another member of the Garde, under attack from the Mogs. (Now that John and Six have hooked up, the charm is broken.) In the process, John loses Sam but finds and rescues Nine – and Six comes to the aid of Seven, now short a Cêpan.

And…that’s about it. I’ve never had so little trouble summing up a book’s plot before!

The “teaser” chapters included I Am Number Four hinted that the story’s narrator might change – from John to Number Seven, otherwise known as Marina. In hiding in a convent in Spain, Marina’s Cêpan has long since abandoned her duties, succumbing instead to the certainty and comfort provided by devout religion. Holding out hope that the Garde will one day reunite, Marina scans the news for any signs of her fellow Loriens – including John Smith. This is how we meet her: a lonely, forsaken young girl, just coming into her abilities, trying to connect with her brethren. Though they share much in common, Marina’s journey has been vastly different from that of John Smith. Through her eyes, a fresh perspective; her words offer a new story.

Alas, only half of The Power of Six is narrated by Marina. The voices alternate between John’s and Seven’s, sometimes changing chapter by chapter, other times more quickly, usually to impart a sense of urgency. This was a rather disappointing surprise (though not altogether unexpected), as I was looking forward to a new storyteller – perhaps with a slightly different tale to tell, and from a female perspective, at that. I think one could argue that allowing a different member of the Garde to narrate each successive book in the series is an interesting, fresh, engaging strategy. We already know John Smith’s story; why not let Six or Seven pick up the torch?

All in all, the The Power of Six proved rather boring. I Am Number Four featured one massive, climactic battle from which John & Co. barely escaped with their lives (indeed, Henri did not). In contrast, The Power of Six has many battles – each less interesting and impressive than the one before. In making these confrontations more commonplace, they authors also render them mundane, ordinary: nothing to write home about.

Likewise, though the odds are never in their favor (many of these battles are between two or three Loriens and human plus one Chimera – BK! – on the one side – and literally hundreds of Mogadorian soldiers and their own feral, angry beasts on the other!), our heroes always manage to triumph while sustaining little or no damage. Granted, their Legacies are developing rapidly, but still. (And yes I realize the absurdity of arguing realism in a sci fi series about alien wars; but these fights are becoming increasingly implausible nonetheless.)

Whereas I Am Number Four featured a wealth of information about the fantastical planets of Lorien and Mogadore (and the catastrophic war between the two), The Power of Six is light on sociocultural history – a shame, since this is what I most liked about the first book.

Also a shame: the writers backpedal on Loric monogamy. When John begins to develop feelings for Six, he freaks out – he’s supposed to love Sarah and Sarah only! Six reassures him with her Cêpan’s tales of multiple Lorien loves; some Loriens are monogamous for life, it seems, but not all. While the gross inequities inherent in a relationship between a Lorien and a human (humans being serial monogamists at best) could have proved a fertile ground for the writers (see e.g. Nekropolis), they all but erase the potential with this plot twist. To add insult to injury, they throw in a love “square” between John, Sarah, Sam, and Six. Yawn. (Although if it develops into a polyamorous relationship, all the better!)

Finally, while Bernie Kosar exhibits increasingly complex thought processes throughout the series – including advanced planning and logic – the implications of this are never explored. Chimera (as well as Mogadorian animals) seem to be nothing more than pets – and Bernie, a glorified guard dog – with no more rights or regard than nonhuman earthlings. Not only are these beings sentient, but they’re intelligent by human standards, as evidenced by the telepathic conversations Four and Nine have with BK. Yet another plot thread dropped in the service of action and style.

A quick, light read, The Power of Six might be forgettable enough if not for its predecessor. Since I so enjoyed I Am Number Four, however, its follow-up is quite the letdown. I’ll keep reading the series, if only because I already own the next two books. But I really wish I’d just borrowed them from the library instead.

P.S. RIP Olivia, we hardly knew ya!

(This review is also posted on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined.)

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2 Responses to “Book Review: The Power of Six, Pittacus Lore (2012)”

  1. Book Review: I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: The Legacies, Pittacus Lore (2012) » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    […] December 2012 release. The materials in The Lost Files: The Legacies were published after Book #2 (The Power of Six) but before Book #3 (The Rise of Nine) in the Lorien Legacies series – just to give you an idea […]

  2. Book Review: The Rise of Nine, Pittacus Lore (2012) » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    […] are also three novellas, each published between books two and three), The Rise of Nine begins where The Power of Six ended. After successfully beating back Mogadorian soldiers, Six flees Spain with Seven, Ten, and […]

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