I Am Number Four
They are hoping this will be the next “franchise”. It’s the first in what’s planned to be 6 books as part of the Lorien Legacies. Hopefully they build and improve. Because while I was totally into it the first half, like obsessed, by the end my enthusiasm had certainly sobered. And then, I wondered if I wasn’t missing something and read it again. So now I have a theory. Always a theory. But we’ll start at the beginning.
Some people still scoff at YA, perhaps because Stephenie Meyer and Twilight have permanently soiled the YA reputation. YA however, when done right, is as insightful and clever and profound as regular “adult” fiction, and those of you who’ve read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak I know will undoubtedly stand up and shout your assent.
I Am Number Four doesn’t quite honour this tradition. In comparison to Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, it is definitely inferior. But I was thoroughly engrossed for the first 250 pages or so. And I still do want to know what happens next, I do care about the other Legacies, and am curious about Six, convenient too because the next installment is called The Power of Six, but I’m not itching, I’m not fiending for it to be Spring when it comes out, I’m not counting down to August 24 the way I am for Mockingjay.
The story has some original elements but borrows – some would say heavily – from others in the genre. Star Wars, Harry Potter, comic books, Tolkien, and honestly this doesn’t bother me as much as the writing. It’s ok at times, and really rather weak at others, and on a few occasions, appallingly bad. Strangely though, James Frey, while he may not be your style, Frey isn’t this sh-t. Frey has more skill for sure.
I’ve since learned that it was apparently Frey who conceived of the idea and pitched it as a writing partnership with Jobie Hughes (together they are “Pittacus Lore”), a recent writing graduate, and it’s Hughes who was supposed to be working on the actual text. Well that makes more sense. (Source)
I don’t mind that I Am Number Four takes inspiration from so many greats. There’s enough creativity here, at least to me, that it doesn’t feel like a steal. And besides, really, these days, everything is a mishmash anyway. The bigger question to me, especially since this is James Frey, is whether or not Four is homage or a parody. And THAT’s why you should read it again the second time. The ambiguity is right there which, in my opinion anyway, makes I Am Number Four a little smarter than you initially want to give it credit for, if that in fact is what they were doing.
Is the entire thing a giant F-ck You from James Frey? Would you put it past him?
Some of the dialogue seems flagrantly – and hilariously – horrible. The overwrought interminable final battle scene becomes almost comical by the end. And the love story, the challenged romance between the supernatural and the human, sound familiar?, offers the most embarrassing unbearable cheese since, yep, since Stephenie Meyer herself.
For his sake then, for Frey’s sake, I have to believe he’s taking the piss. It’s so formulaic he really could be taking the piss. Like there’s a roadmap and a checklist, and he’s systematically ticking off the conventions one by one. It would be SO amazing if he was.
Because Michael Bay is producing it. And Michael Bay wouldn’t know irony if it was sucking his dick. Hollywood wanted I Am Number Four even before the book hit shelves. And they’ll probably play it straight. And if in fact Frey really is embedding something satirical in here, well then that’s some cool sh-t there, non? Read it again with this in mind, let me know your thoughts.
As for the movie, they released some footage at Comic-Con. I like Pettyfer as John Smith. I like Timothy Olyphant too, though I would have liked Sharlto Copley more, Six is nothing like I pictured her, and beyond that, I can’t say I’m all that invested. Will I see it? Of course. Will I get upset about it like I do with Potter and Dragon and Katniss? Not at all. And that’s probably the biggest problem with the book so far: if you’re mocking then you can’t expect an emotional investment.