A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lots of kissing between John and Sarah -- it almost goes further one night but Henri comes home.
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Plenty of "s--t," "damn," and "asshole."
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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.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that I Am Number Four is the *first book in the Lorien Legacies series. This aliens-on-Earth sci-fi tale 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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.