I Am Number Four

Common Sense Media says

Super-powered fugitive alien finds high school romance.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Tween and teen readers may have fun comparing and contrasting the book to the movie. Families may also want to talk about similarities in superhero stories -- and why superhero powers have appeal.

Positive messages

What's the Spider-man line? "With great power comes great responsibility." There's a whole planet riding on the hopes of a few survivors and their superpowers. Bravery, trust, and friendship are all keys to helping John grow into this difficult role. Plus there's a small eco-message about caring for whatever planet you're on -- the evil Mogadorians destroyed their own planet and are out to destroy others.

Positive role models

Henri is a great mentor figure to John. He's protective and totally devoted to helping John master his gifts. John struggles with bouncing from one town to another, especially when he begins to make friends, but as he develops his powers he begins to put his heavy responsibilities -- and the lives of others -- above all else.

Violence

One big, bloody battle among aliens, alien monsters with some limbs severed, swordplay, firestorms, and injuries to key characters. Flashbacks to the destruction of an entire planet and its people. A raging house fire started by reckless teens threatens lives. Teens bully others and get in a big fistfight. A kidnapping/beating, and discussions of three significant deaths leading up to aliens hunting down the main character -- Number Four.

Sex

Lots of kissing between John and Sarah -- it almost goes further one night but Henri comes home.

Language

Plenty of "s--t," "damn," and "asshole."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking at a high school party where teens are so drunk they set the house on fire and think it's a joke at first -- and there's a rumor that they were also smoking pot in the basement.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this aliens-on-Earth sci-fi read focuses as much on high school social life as it does on one good teen alien's fight for survival. On the high school front there's some bullying, a fistfight, some drinking, and a house fire started by teen drinkers. When the alien-on-alien action comes to a head there are some intense battle sequences with big monsters, bloody injuries, limbs severed, death, and destruction. As John, or Number Four, begins to develop his superpowers and realizes the importance of them, he has a great mentor in Henri and friends he learns to trust.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

The story of a cute alien finding both love and his superpowers while on the run from not-so-cute aliens -- that's probably the tagline that sold the movie rights. Here are a few more details: John is one of 18 to leave the planet Lorien before the evil Mogadorians completely destroyed it. The survivors made it to Earth and spilt up -- nine kids with nine mentors who must stay on the run from Mogadorians on Earth who want to finish the job. Thanks to a charm, each kid has a number and can only be destroyed in order. Three are dead as Number Four heads to Paradise, Ohio with his mentor Henri, who is waiting for John to develop his superpowers so he can begin to train him. Henri is thrilled when John's hands start to mysteriously glow, but John's training gets in the way of his romance with Sarah and friendship with Sam, who has an odd fascination with aliens already. Then, one of Sam's conspiracy newsletters -- printed only hours away -- mentions the Mogadorians. Are the evil aliens already hot on their trail?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Here's a young adult novel that covers a lot of territory: superheroes, aliens, romance, high school bullying, and angst. Though the mish-mash of genres keeps I AM NUMBER FOUR from any real complexity, the various elements seem to blend together quite well -- only at the end, as expected, do readers get the all-out alien slug-fest.

John is a solid, good-hearted character, and his relationship with his mentor Henri is touching. Love interest Sarah seems to lose her depth as the story goes forward -- maybe it's the too-quick acceptance of who John really is that does it. But other teen characters grow in surprising ways. And there are just enough surprises and suspense to propel readers through the series -- and into theaters to see the film.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about superpowers. Why do you think stories about superhuman abilities are so popular? What sort of similarities do you see in the protagonists?

  • If you read the book first, does it make you want to see the movie? If you see the movie first, what drew you to the book? Did Hollywood get it right? What -- if anything -- would you have changed?

Book details

Author:Pittacus Lore
Genre:Science Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Harper
Publication date:August 3, 2010
Number of pages:448

This review of I Am Number Four was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 15 years old Written bybananalover March 16, 2011
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

best book ever

What other families should know
Too much swearing
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 11 and 13 year old Written byChristine1792 April 22, 2011
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Not a terrible book for young teens-some violence and physical relationship to be aware of

I originally read the book to see what my 13 year old daughter was interested in reading. She does like things that are suspensful and gripping which for a teen I would say this book fit the bill. It was a good combination of typical HS drama (male/female attraction, jealousy, fighting, bullying, name calling) mixed with some imaginitive alien fiction. She enjoyed the book quite a bit, and to be honest, even though the story was far-fetched (in my opinion) the writing was excellent and I did find myself wanting to see how the book would end and get a sneak peek at the sequel. As a parent I was concerned that the relationship between the main character and his girl friend would go too far. There were two scenes described in the book where the couple is kissing, both take place while the teens are alone in their bedrooms. The second scene takes place in John's bedroom when Henri is not home and the interaction between the teens is pretty descriptive and gets heated for teen readers. As an adult, I feel the writer is leading his readers down a dangerous path thinking that this is acceptible behavior for all teens. I will be keeping an eye on this particular topic it in the sequel. I think the combination of action and the budding love story was a perfect combination to keep both male and female readers engaged.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byI izz awsom March 9, 2011
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

I am number four... i think i'm in love lol

OMG i luved this book! i devoured it in less then a day!!!!! I cant wait untill the sequel comes out in august!!!!! I'm going to go see the movie this week!!!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential School Tools