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.

Advertisements

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, 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