Author: Pittacus Lore
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: Aug 3, 2010
Cover Impressions: I got the movie tie-in edition on sale. The cover is decent. It will definitely appeal to boys and the cute guy on the cover will grab the girl's attention. I like the sparks and embers but would have like a little more indication of flame and a clearer image of the symbol in the background.
The Gist: 9 children escaped the doomed planet of Lorien in the middle of an attack by the Mogdorians. (Unsure of the spelling here - don't care enough to go back and check). They have been placed under a "protection" spell that requires them to be killed in order (wonder how they chose who would be number one?). Three have died already and we meet John Smith, number four.
Review: I was pretty exited to read this book. Not because of the movie (didn't know about that) or the plot, but because it was the first book chosen by my new Junior High Book Club. The kids made suggestions and I chose the final pick (mostly based on availability). A lot of my students claimed to have loved this book, so I couldn't wait to see what interested them so much.
By the end, I had begun to doubt their taste. First, the good things. This book has quite a bit of action (mostly at the end). It has a love interest and a main character with super special powers. The plot was interesting enough at the beginning but began to fall apart by the end. Perhaps the problem is that I question while I am reading and many students have not yet learned to do that or do not have a varied repitoire from which to compare writing. Either way, I did have some issues here.
First of all, I liked the premise behind the book but found some plot-holes frustrating. It was never explained WHY the Mogdorians are spending so much time chasing these kids around Earth. They have already gotten what they wanted from Lorien - slaughtering (hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands?) full grown Loriens with developed powers, so why would they be worried about a handful of kids rather than using their resources for a full scale invasion of Earth? I understand that in a series like this, these type of secrets are often saved for further books but it seemed like no-one but me even questioned why John was being hunted. I was also frustrated at the lack of revelations by the end of the novel. I do not need to know EVERYTHING at the end of the first book, but it would have been nice to learn SOMETHING - John could have opened the letter at the very least! The plot itself was fairly predictable and the big shocking moments were things that I had assumed would happen after only the first couple chapters.
The characters were mostly bland and annoying. John refuses to face his situation, seems cocky for no reason and makes selfish decisions that puts everyone else in danger. He has an amazing ability to ignore what is going on around him and seems to be more interested in making out with his girlfriend than training to save his world. Sarah was boring beyond belief - so boring in fact that I just had to go look up her name because I couldn't remember it. She does not appear to have a single flaw and is beloved by everyone, despite her having recently turned her back on her boyfriend and the cheerleading squad - one would think those people might be bitter but, no, they still love her. The side characters mostly blend together, particularly the football players, or are mildly interesting, like Sam, but don't get any real development.
The action scenes in this novel seemed to be missing something. At the end, they were prolonged with attack after attack but still didn't have a real sense of urgency. The
I can understand why my students would have liked this book (many of them liked Twilight after all) but I did not have any desire to read the teaser for the next book, let alone actually continue the series.
Age: 16 and Up
Violence: Bullying, Hand to Hand combat, Knifeplay, Gunplay, Violence to animals
Inappropriate Language: Shit, Bitch, Damn, Dick
Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking