Book Review: I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: The Legacies, Pittacus Lore (2012)

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

A minor improvement over Books 2 and 3.

three out of five stars

*Caution! Minor spoilers ahead!*

The confusingly-titled I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: The Legacies is actually a collection of three novellas previously released in ebook format: Six’s Legacy (July 2011), Nine’s Legacy (February 2012), and The Fallen Legacies (July 2012). A fourth novella, The Search for Sam, is scheduled for a 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 of the story’s timeline.

That said, you can either read The Lost Files: The Legacies in order of its publication, or after finishing Book #3 – there’s nothing in the former that will impact the reader’s understanding of the latter. In fact, I saved The Lost Files: The Legacies for last, and ultimately prefer it this way. Some of the stories in The Lost Files: The Legacies altered my perceptions of certain characters – characters that weren’t fully fleshed out until Book #3.

Narrated by Number Six, “Six’s Legacy” paints a more detailed picture of Six’s history than we were given in previous books – but not by much. We learn a little bit more about her childhood, as well as her relationship with her Cêpan, Katarina, and their capture and imprisonment in a Mogadorian mountain cave in West Virginia. Whereas I would’ve liked to be a party to Katarina’s stories of life on Lorien, the author doesn’t revisit these quieter scenes, instead focusing on conflicts and near-misses. Coming in at a mere 91 pages, I can’t say that I walked away with a greater understanding of Six as a person.

As with “Six’s Legacy,” Nine serves as the narrator of his own novella, “Nine’s Legacy.” When I mentioned that this anthology is best read last because it may change how you view certain (previously unsympathetic) characters, I was referring primarily to Nine. Though he appears cocky, reckless, and self-absorbed in The Power of Six and The Rise of Nine, Nine starts off as a rather likable guy – teenage male bravado aside. It’s only after a friend’s betrayal leads to his capture and the murder of his Cêpan that Nine develops a thick shell of indifference and an unquenchable, unyielding desire for revenge.

“The Fallen Legacies” is perhaps the most interesting of the three. Unlike the other novellas, this story isn’t told by a member of the Garde (namely, Numbers One, Two, and/or Three – the “fallen legacies” alluded to in the title), but by a young Mogadorian. As the son of a high-ranking Mogadorian General, Adamus “Adam” Sutekh is expected to follow in his father’s footsteps: become an obedient, unquestioning soldier for the cause and, one day, a Mog ruler on Earth. Hiding in plain sight in a Mogadorian enclave on Earth (read: an exclusive gated community outside of Washington, DC), he’s a witness to the deaths of One, Two, and Three, with varying degrees of involvement. In many ways, these events are milestones in Adam’s life, markers on his road to adulthood.

(More below the fold…)

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

Monday, November 5th, 2012

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?

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: I Am Number Four, Pittacus Lore (2010)

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Four stars for I Am Number Four

four out of five stars

Not so much a review as a random collection of thoughts, but you get the idea!

  • The basic premise of the Lorien Legacies series is this: we are not alone. Besides Earth, multiple planets capable of sustaining life exist in the universe. Among these are Lorien and Mogadore, whose contrasting pasts and presents reflect two possible futures for Earth.

    Much like Earth today, in its early history Lorien was faced with ecological collapse. Caused by greed and fueled by rapid technological advancements, the Loric people were quickly depleting their planet’s resources, driving it ever closer to ruin. Rather than continue on this self-destructive path, the Loriens chose another way: they simplified their society, living sustainably and in harmony with nature. (Just what this entails isn’t clear. For example, there’s no indication that the Loriens are/were vegans, nor do they seem to have renounced their “ownership” of nonhuman animals.)

    In thanks, the planet endowed the Loriens with special gifts. While all Loriens are stronger, faster, and more powerful than the average human, roughly half of the population have additional, supernatural abilities: Telekinesis. The ability to control the elements. Invisibility. The gift of flight. Imperviousness to fire. They are members of the Garde, the superhuman – or rather super-Lorien – protectors of the planet. Behind the scenes, the Cêpan manage the society and act as mentors to young Gardes who are just discovering their Legacies. At the time of our hereos’ births, Lorien is a veritable Eden, with everyone coexisting in peace and harmony.

    Mogadore offers a terrifying glimpse of the road not taken by Lorien. Faced with a similar fate, the Mogadorians deplete their planet’s resources, turning it into a barren hellscape – and then set out to conquer other planets and plunder their resources as well. The first of these is Lorien, which is caught with its guard down and is taken easily. Save for a lucky few, all of the Loric people are slaughtered. Lorien is laid to waste.

    Obvious moral is obvious, though no less true. We are at a crossroads; will we emulate the peaceable Lorien, or – be it through, antipathy, stubbornness, or privilege – go the way of Mogadore? Human history, rife as it is with genocide, colonization, slavery, and wars of convenience, does not speak well of us.

    (More below the fold…)