I Am Number Four

Pittacus Lore, Harper, $17.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-196955-3
In this action-packed but formulaic novel, first in the Lorien Legacies series, John Smith appears to be a normal American teenager, living in Ohio with his father, attending high school, and falling for a local girl. But he's really something much cooler: an alien from the planet Lorien, and one of the last survivors of a race that was nearly wiped out by its enemies. And now the evil Mogadorians have traveled to Earth looking for survivors, with an eye toward wiping out this planet as well. John is destined to fight them, but will his superpowers manifest before it's too late? Lore (a Loric elder in the book, and a pseudonym for writer James Frey and a coauthor) provides a fast-moving plot and some genuinely creepy bad guys, though the basic premise is clichéd and the science won't pass muster with diehard SF fans. However, a Michael Bay–produced movie is planned for 2011, and for those looking for an undemanding, popcorn-ready read, this "guy—okay, alien—gets the girl and saves the world" adventure should do the trick. Ages 14–up. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/19/2010
Release date: 08/01/2010
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