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I Am Number Four

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
I Am Number Four Book Poster Image
Super-powered fugitive alien finds high school romance.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 53 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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 & Representations

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.


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.


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


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

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11 and 13 year old Written byChristine1792 April 22, 2011

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... Continue reading
Adult Written byMrsD February 10, 2011
I could not put this book down! It was fascinating, and the interaction between the characters was very realistic (most of the time). I like the way the book... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bybananalover March 16, 2011
Teen, 13 years old Written byI izz awsom March 9, 2011

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'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?

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.

Talk to your kids 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

For kids who love sci-fi and aliens

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