An enhanced movie tie-in e-pub of pseudonymous author James Frey’s slapdash, cliché-ridden foray (original review below) into sci-fi for teenagers attempts to add value, though much of it is readily available for free on the Internet.

A “message” from Pittacus Lore, nominal author and Elder of the planet Lorien, explains how nine children and nine guardians escaped to Earth before their planet was destroyed by the Mogadorians, but it can also be read online (advertised in the e-book). Likewise, online, readers can “meet” seven out of the 13 characters “introduced” in the e-book, learn the Lorien horoscope signs, find still images from the film and watch most of the same movie trailers. The unique e-book features include an extended text version of the opening scene of the movie (how Number Three dies in Africa); five brief grid-enhanced satellite videos of “Surveillance Clues,” locations supposedly key to the plot; the first two chapters of the upcoming sequel, The Power of Six; and the journal of Sarah, the human girlfriend of the alien hero John Smith (Number Four), in which she describes 11 scenes in the book from her point of view, to complement John’s.

Fans must decide if it’s worth paying $3 more than the plain e-book for such meager morsels. (Science fiction. 11-13)


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Original review (Aug. 1, 2010): I Am Number Four:

If it were a Golden Age comic, this tale of ridiculous science, space dogs and humanoid aliens with flashlights in their hands might not be bad.

Alas... Number Four is a fugitive from the planet Lorien, which is sloppily described as both "hundreds of lightyears away" and "billions of miles away." Along with eight other children and their caretakers, Number Four escaped from the Mogadorian invasion of Lorien ten years ago. Now the nine children are scattered on Earth, hiding. Luckily and fairly nonsensically, the planet's Elders cast a charm on them so they could only be killed in numerical order, but children one through three are dead, and Number Four is next. Too bad he's finally gained a friend and a girlfriend and doesn't want to run. At least his newly developing alien powers means there will be screen-ready combat and explosions. Perhaps most idiotic, "author" Pittacus Lore is a character in this fiction—but the first-person narrator is someone else entirely.

Maybe this is a natural extension of lightly hidden actual author James Frey's drive to fictionalize his life, but literature it ain't. (Science fiction. 11-13)