Saturday 6 August 2011

Review: The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore

I've seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened to John Smith. To the world he's a mystery, but to me ... he's one of us. Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us, if we all still believe in our mission.

There are six of us left. We're hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another, but our Legacies are developing and soon we'll be ready to fight. Is John Number Four - and is his appearance the sign I've been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who might be strong enough to bring the six of us together?
They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio ... and failed. I am Number Seven. And I'm ready to fight.

I Am Number Four, the first book in Pittacus Lore's Lorien Legacies, was one of those books where I really had to think my way into the mind of a teenager when I wrote my review. As an adult reader I found it to be somewhat derivative, with a plot that was overly contrived in places and bland, two-dimensional characters. However, I also said at the time that there was more than enough action and tension to keep younger readers interested and wanting more, even if I wasn't all that bothered about reading a sequel. However, I Am Number Four has proven to be a very popular title in the school library, and so when the generous people at Puffin said they would send me a copy of the sequel I thought I may as well give the first fifty pages a go. Fifty very quickly became one hundred, and then one hundred became... you get my drift. I was sucked into The Power of Six and I loved it!

This is a vastly improved piece of work compared with its predecessor, and I think that adults could begin to enjoy this series as much as younger readers obviously are if future books are as enjoyable as this one. I felt that The Power of Four was all about action and story, with very little effort put into developing its characters. This book, written in the first person again, is far more character driven, and all the better for it. With Henri no longer around and John and Sam having to cope on their own, albeit with the far more streetwise Six, we really begin to see what makes them tick, and the importance of the bond that has grown between them. The author has introduced another element to the story that has made it far more interesting: in The Power of Six we are introduced to another character, Marina, herself one of the Garde, and her story is also told in the first person. With Marina's story set in a convent in Spain, this means that the narration alternates between her and John, with both parts being told in a way that has the reader both longing to stay with one character, but also desperate to jump back to the other character to find out what happens to them next. This is page-turning writing for young people at its best, with cliffhanger after cliffhanger throughout the course of the book.

The plot of The Power of Six is far less predictable than that of the first book in the series, which had a very linear plot and held very few surprises for me. This time around there are a healthy number of twists to the story which will keep readers guessing, and the action levels have been ramped up even higher. The most enjoyable scenes of the story are when the young Lorien are using their powers, or Legacies, and with Four, Six and now Seven in the story these scenes appear more often in the story.

In the best books for young readers it is very often the villains that are the stars of the piece and make the story really interesting. For a good part of the first book the bad guys, the Mogadorians, were often spoken about but rarely seen until towards the end. In the sequel we see far more of them, and they are shaping up to be pretty nasty indeed, although we still do not find a great deal behind what is motivating their single-minded mission to wipe the Lorien off the face of the universe. However, it is not only an alien race that the younger Garde have to avoid - since the events at the end of I Am Number Four they are also being pursued by pretty much every US law enforcement agency, suspected of being international terrorists. Life is about to get even more uncomfortable....

With the benefit of hindsight, I Am Number Four now feels like the book equivalent of the pilot episode to a new TV series: good enough for the full series to be commissioned, but ultimately not as polished or enjoyable as what comes later. I really hope that the rest of the series is as good as The Power of Six. I will definitely be reading book three!


  1. Conmpletely agree that Power of 6 is much better than I Am Number Four- part of the problem with IAN4 was the domestic, rather more romantic setting, which Power of 6 kinda shrugs off. Plus Marina's POV is a huge huge benefit. I liked reading her bits as much as the 'main' bits, and that's unusual.