Book: United As One

"United as One"

They hunted us for our legacies.
They are coming for you now too.
They know you have powers.
They fear how powerful we can become–together.
We need your help.
We can save the planet if
We fight as one.

They started this war.
We will end it.

I read this last year. I thought about skipping writing about this since it’s been so long, but the completion-ist in me didn’t want to go ahead to the new Lorien Legacies series without at least posting about the finale of the previous one.

So–

If you’ve been keeping up with the I Am Number Four series of books, United As One provides a very satisfying conclusion to the novels. The previous book, The Fate of Ten, stumbled in providing plot movement–and that actually leaves a problem for this last book. Which I will get to.

For the most part, United As One reads like a series finale of a television program. Things really come to a head, and you don’t know which of the protagonists will survive until the end. But the first few chapters felt a little cramped, with no wiggle room for breathing. I feel like some elements of United As One‘s first act would have benefited being introduced in the previous book.

I just hope they apply their learnings from the previous series to the one that’s currently being written now, Legacies Reborn.

And this is pretty much all I can write, because this is all I remember from my reactions after reading the book last year. There’s a lesson here for me as well: never disappear from blogging, unless you don’t have plans of ever returning.

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Book: Rebel Allies (I Am Number Four, The Lost Files)

"Rebel Allies"

You know the invasion has begun.
You know we are all that stands in their way.
You think we are alone.
You will see we have hidden allies.
They think they have won.
They are wrong.
They do not have our power.
They do not know the truth.
We have a secret weapon.

I enjoy the Lorien Legacies novels for being book-equivalents of summer blockbuster films, and I don’t really look at them for anything more than entertainment. So it’s always a pleasant surprise when I read The Lost Files novellas because they’re so much better than their main series counterparts.

Probably because they’re so short and they stick to one character’s point of view. The shorter format of the novellas make sure that the action is tight, and the pace is slow enough to allow readers to breathe. But it’s really the singular perspective that elevates the novellas from the main Lorien Legacies series. Because we don’t juggle multiple characters vying for their time in the spotlight, we can actually see the characters deal with their actions and develop into becoming more fully-realized.

In Rebel Allies, the three novellas feature former antagonist Mark James, new character Lexa, and how they teamed up to become an auxiliary team in the fight against the Mogadorians.

Mark James is one of my least favorite characters in the main series. He didn’t really serve a purpose before, other than be the third party to the romance angle of I Am Number Four. When they turned him into a supporting protagonist, he kind of lost his point. And I didn’t really know why there was a need to keep him around, when you already had humans in the main group who served a better purpose than he does, story-telling-wise.

Return to Paradise, his previous novella from a previous The Lost Files collection, further cemented the fact that he no longer had a purpose. And then the people behind the Lorien Legacies series wrote The Fugitive. And suddenly Mark James has direction again.

Unlike the humans in the main group, Mark James is the actual substitute for the majority of the human race. He who wants to do something to help against the alien threat, but is in actuality in over his head. And he doesn’t have an alien best friend who can bust him out of tight spots.

Mark James is painfully human, and that’s what makes his journey resonate more. His humanity. His vulnerability. And his realization that he is not the main character in this story.

Which serves as great foil for new character Lexa who doesn’t give a damn about the other characters. She is in this war for revenge. And it is very refreshing to see another alien character who isn’t extolling the good virtues of the Lorien people.

As the sidelined characters, Mark and Lexa are just the perspective the Lorien Legacies series needed. An outside view of the war that seems to be the be-all and end-all for the characters in the main series. They work well in the outskirts.

Which is why, although I loved them in these novellas, the two kind of felt like a deus-ex-machina device when they appeared in The Fate of Ten. Obviously there was a plan to bring them in the main series, after all, Mark James did come from the very first book– But I also really liked the idea of there being other stories that, although they are affected by the events of the main series, they exist only in the periphery.

It makes the world of Lorien Legacies bigger. More believable. Because not everyone crosses paths.

The series is ending with United As One coming out this year. There’s another The Lost Files collection coming out as well. But I hope the writers of this series still come up with more novellas featuring characters that don’t play major parts in the main series. Because the mythology they built is too amazing to waste in just one linear narrative.

Give your readers more than just the usual.

Book: The Fate of Ten

"The Fate of Ten"

This is the day we’ve been training for. The day we’ve all feared. We’ve spent years fighting the Mogadorians in secret, never letting the world know the truth about our war. But now all of that has changed.

Their ships have invaded Earth. If we can’t find a way to stop them now, humans could suffer the same fate as our people: annihilation.

I wish I could be with John on the front lines of the battle in New York City, but I am hoping–praying–that the key to our survival lies within the Sanctuary. This is where the Elders always meant for us to go when we came of age. This was their plan for us. There is a power that has been hidden here beneath the earth for generations. A power that could save the world or destroy it. And now we have awoken it.

They killed Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
Number Three in Kenya.
And Number Eight in Florida.

I am Number Six–but our numbers don’t matter anymore.

Because now we are not the only ones with Legacies.

Much like the previous books in the Lorien Legacies series, The Fate of Ten is a fast and fun read. An escape from the real world, if you will. But compared to previous installments, this one felt a little lackluster.

Maybe I’m starting to feel fatigue. Maybe it’s because the last book was so amazing that my expectations were set much higher. Or maybe the material was just a tad too stretched than usual.

In The Fate of Ten, we get three perspectives: Number Four’s, Number Six’s, and Number Ten’s. While I loved the pacing of Number Four’s and Number Six’s separate stories, Number Ten’s point-of-view felt a little too convenient. It’s as if the author saw the page count and realized he still had a lot of things to cover, so he used up two chapters to just explain why certain things are happening.

I wasn’t a fan of the extensive flashback to things I never actually wondered about as well. And I felt like some of the characters we’ve gotten to know over the course of the books got short-changed in this installment. And these concerns colored my enjoyment of the book a little bit. Especially Sarah, Number Four’s girlfriend. I feel like the book would have been better with one of the point-of-views being hers.

My biggest concern with The Fate of Ten though has to do with the fact that nothing big actually happens. Well, a handful of big things did happen–but they felt more like a holdover than a precursor to bigger things. Things that shout “grand finale!” Instead, this book feels like the publishers are just trying to milk the readers’ money for one more book.

Well, at least I hope it’s just one more book. Because I am definitely ready for this series to end.

Book: I Am Number Four The Lost Files, Hidden Enemy

"Hidden Enemy"

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.

Book: I Am Number Four The Lost Files, Secret Histories

"Secret Histories"

You know our stories are true. You know why we fight. You must discover their secrets. You must learn from our mistakes. They are hiding, just like us. They plan to destroy your planet. They destroyed ours. We cannot let this happen again.

The last time I wrote about the collected novellas of the I Am Number Four series, I said the novellas were good but, if you’ve already read the main books, were unnecessary. But that was because two of the three novellas were back stories for characters we’ve met in the main series. And those back stories were already shared in said main series.

Fortunately, the second set of novellas focus on expanding the universe that I Am Number Four is creating–and not expounding on stories we already know from the main books.

In “The Search for Sam,” we pick up where we last see Adam–the Mogadorian traitor we meet in “The Lost Legacies” from the first set of novellas. Continuing as a companion series for the main story, “The Search for Sam” shows us what’s going on in the Mogadorain camp while John Smith and his new-found allies travel to find the other Garde members–and save their allies.

Out of the three, this is the only novella I have a problem with… Because this is where we see Malcolm Goode first.

Malcolm is a character we already know of in the main story. He is Sam’s dad, and he has been missing for around a decade. My main beef with this novella is that this is where we find out what happened to Malcolm, and this is where he rejoins the fight against the Mogadorians.

I know he’s not as important a character as the Garde are–but I felt it was disrespectful to the Sam character that we meet his dad here–and not in the main story–when he is one of the major arcs of the I Am Number Four series.

Other than this complaint though, I loved “The Search for Sam” because of its excellent pacing. Adam’s journey from the death of Three, to his acceptance of One’s fate–and his eventual mission to help the Garde was exhilarating. I think there was even a point, during the time I was reading, when I found myself liking Adam’s characterization more than I do any of the main Garde characters.

And then “The Last Days of Lorien” started. And I loved this novella too. I loved getting to know Sandor, the unorthodox Cepan who chose to hide in plain sight. I loved discovering the reasons why he was unconventional. And I loved how we got to see the society of Lorien–what was taken away from our main characters.

But before I could love Sandor more than Adam, our erstwhile Mogadorian makes a return in “The Forgotten Ones” where he finds himself a new mission: to save the Chimaeras who were captured by the Mogadorians.

In the main series, Adam made his debut with the arrival of the Chimaera at the base of our heroes. And although this is another case of having the main action take place in the companion series instead of the main books, I couldn’t fault the authors for not including this story in the books.

Adam’s mission to save the Chimaera is a side story–one that will slow down the action of the main story. And it’s not like their arrival in the main story causes the tide to turn in their favor anyway. They’re still outnumbered and in over their heads. They’re more supplementary than the second coming of a savior.

And this is where we see that the novellas are finally finding their place in the I Am Number Four continuity. As expansions of the main series told through episodic stand-alone stories. And I can’t wait to see where the writers of the I Am Number Four series take us in the next set.

Book: The Fall of Five

"The Fall of Five"

They brought in their leader. They thought they could defeat us. They thought they had won. They were wrong.

We have finally come together. We will be more powerful than ever. We have lost battles. We will not lose this war.

Lorien will rise again.

What do you do when the title of the book you’re reading is a giant spoiler? You choose to ignore the fact that you know where the story is going, that’s what. And then, you just enjoy the ride.

At least, that’s what I did when I read The Fall of Five.

In the latest release from the Lorien Legacies series, we finally meet all of the Gardes. And we get a new Cepan in the form of… well, that’s a spoiler I think I can hold off on. Because unlike the first two books of the series, the fourth book holds up well in terms of quality. And I really would want for you to read it. And be surprised by it.

Well, be surprised if you haven’t read any of the novellas. Which you can live without anyway. They’re supplementary reading at best.

But this is not about that. This is about The Fall of Five, and the writer’s (or writers’?) amazing ability to give a different voice for each one of the ten characters. Eleven if you count the cameos of… Oh, wait. That’s a spoiler too.

What isn’t a spoiler though is the bad-ass action sequences we get in the book. Seriously. Action sequences that take you into the heat of the battle. In a book. Who needs 3D when you can be right in the middle of the action? Oh, wait, you need an active imagination to do that. Fortunately, it’s not prerequisite for The Fall of Five. The descriptions, the whole lot of them, paint very vivid pictures. That move.

If there’s one thing you can really sell about The Fall of Five is that it never wants in the description department. But it doesn’t go overboard with it too–which is great. Come to think of it, this series is basically a script for a movie that’s just waiting to be made.

There are a bunch of lessons about confidence, team work, and treating people right–but they take on the after-school special approach, and they’re not really mind-blowingly original. But they’re there, and they don’t detract from the overall experience. Adds to it, maybe.

The only thing I don’t like is the fact that we have to wait for the next book. I want it now.

I can’t believe that, after being ambivalent about the first two books, I’m actually looking forward now to when the next book’s going to drop. Excited even. This further cements my learning that you never should judge a series by its first book.

And seeing as I completely lost it, not really saying anything much of import, I’ll turn you over to other book blogs who’ve already written their piece on The Fall of Five. Enjoy!

My Book Musings
TF Geek Girl
Book Probe

Book: I Am Number Four The Lost Files, The Legacies

"The Lost Files"

Talk about a mouthful. I am at an actual loss as to what to call this book. Should I call it The Legacies? The Lost Files? Or the really long I Am Number Four The Lost Files: The Legacies? Anyway–

You know we’re out there, living among you. You know we’re waiting for our day to come. You have seen the power of our legacies. You know this is why they hunt us. You may think you know our stories. You are wrong. We each have our own story. We know the time has come to share them with you. Our legacies are your only hope.

This book collects three novellas that is supposed to, I guess, bridge one Lorien Legacy book to the next. In it we have a back stories for Six and Nine, as well as a story that tackles the coming war from the other side of the fence. Now, if I hadn’t already read The Power of Six and The Rise of Nine, this book would’ve been much more valued. But I have read Books 2 and 3 of the Lorien Legacies–and that makes the novellas Six’s Legacy and Nine’s Legacy sort of obsolete. Both get tackled in the second and third book, respectively, and in a more succinct manner.

What does make this book a gem though is the last novella: The Fallen Legacies.

I mentioned, while writing about The Rise of Nine, that me reading the series has now veered away from being a guilty pleasure to actual enjoyment. That’s how I felt, reading The Fallen Legacies. It’s something that was enjoyable to read–and not because I was treating it as an action-adventure summer blockbuster film turned into a book. As I have already said, it tackles the coming war between the good guys and the bad guys–from the perspective of the bad guys. And, for the first time, we get a main character that we can empathize with.

Notice how I said main character and not protagonist?

Another thing that I enjoyed about The Fallen Legacies is the fact that while it retells a couple of stories that were already referred to in the three published books from the series, it manages to do so in a fresh way–with new information. The opening of I Am Number Four gets explored further, and we get to meet the characters that fell before the series even began.

Reading this last novella, I felt disappointed that the author hadn’t decided to write it into a full-fledged novel instead. I think that would’ve been more interesting to read than the rehash of what happened to both Six and Nine prior to them meeting Four.

But that’s just me. Let’s see how other people reacted to this collection:
Teen Reads
The World of Argon
Tales of the Ravenous Reader