“You know we have been betrayed. You must discover why. You must learn the truth. They have put a plan in motion. They have infiltrated your government. They have already turned some of you. They will do whatever it takes to have your planet. The battle lines have been drawn. Whose side are you on?”
In the previous set of novellas from the I Am Number Four continuity, we see an expansion of the universe our characters are inhabiting. We see Lorien as the planet it once was, while moving the plot of the main arc through the actions of the Mogadorian traitor named Adam.
In this set of novellas, we revert to what the original set of novellas set out to do: expanding the universe without affecting the main timeline. Except, this time, the novellas do it right.
My main problem with “Six’s Legacy” and “Nine’s Legacy” in the first collected set of novellas was the fact that we already know their back stories courtesy of the main series. The expansion adds details, yes, but for the most part–we already knew where the story started and where it was going.
In “Five’s Legacy,” although we know where the story is already going, it’s how the character begins his journey that is made interesting. Because unlike his contemporaries, Five falls into the wrong crowd. Five is fed lies. And Five makes a decision based on what he knows–with the aid of a misguided friend.
But what I like most about “Five’s Legacy” is how it is juxtaposed to Number Four’s journey. How they start out the same, but turn out differently because of the people surrounding them.
And it makes Five less hateful than when we meet him in the main series.
This is what a great expansion of character is.
“Five’s Betrayal” continues this exemplary development of character–rounding Five out as a character who isn’t just bad–he’s misguided. And he still can be a good guy. This is a development that is serviced by a line or two in the main books, but is explored further in the novella.
And then there’s “Return to Paradise,” a novella from the point of view of I Am Number Four‘s secondary antagonist who turns out to be a secondary protagonist. It expands the world in a different way, showing the aftershocks of a town hit by an alien battle–and the lives of those left behind.
“The Legacies” started out in the wrong foot when it gave us novellas that focused on stories already established in the main story, while “Secret Histories” improved on the idea of expanding the universe–but took the action that was supposed to be for the main story. But it is here in “Hidden Enemy” that the writers of the I Am Number Four series finally hits the nail on the head of expansion stories: by actually expanding already existing stories, giving us a better understanding of already existing characters and story lines.