I Am Number Four

It’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed a book–not because I haven’t read some review-worthy books, but because I haven’t had time or haven’t been able to figure out how to accurately summarize my thoughts.

However, I’ve got one for you now. I Am Number Four has received a lot of attention in the young adult realm lately–mostly because it’s just been made into a film. And, like the good reader that I am, I promised myself that I would read the book before seeing the movie (even though Civil Twilight’s song “Letters from the Sky” is on the soundtrack!).

All right, the premise: it’s science fiction (yay!). The title refers to the novel’s protagonist. He is an alien from a planet called Lorian. He and eight other children, along with each of their Cepans (like Watchers…sort of) and the pilot of the spacecraft, managed to escape Lorian during a global war in which the Lorians’ enemy, the Mogadorians, killed the Lorians to take over their planet. The Mogadorians had used up all the resources and their own planet and needed a new home.

The novel follows the fourth child and his Cepan, Henri. Every few months, Four and Henri move to a new small town in an effort to keep Four’s identity secret. Four changes his name each time (he goes by John Smith during the events of this novel). The numbering of each child is important. The Mogadorians have come to Earth to track down the nine children. Once they kill the nine, they can then begin to take over Earth (a planet much larger and more suited to the Mogadorians’ needs). But there’s a curse on the children for their protection: the Mogadorians can only kill the children in order of their number. (I don’t recall whether the number represents birth order or something else. That wasn’t clearly explained.) Every time one of the kids dies, each of the remaining nine gets a ring burned around his or her ankle as an alert that one of their number is gone. The novel opens with Three’s death, which is why Henri and Four must move yet again.

They arrive in Paradise, Ohio, where John soon meets a beautiful girl named Sarah and befriends a sci-fi geek named Sam. From there on out, it’s just what you’d expect from an alien-pretending-to-be-human, coming-of-age tale. John’s in love for the first time, has a best friend for the first time, experiences the arrival of his Legacies (his special abilities as one of the nine–he’s fireproof and able to employ telekinesis), and struggles to decide how to tell both Sam and Sarah about his true identity. And, of course, the Mogadorians find him. Fighting ensues. People discover his secret. Enemies in his high school become allies in the fight against the Mogadorians.

I expected this book to be epic. My favorite parts of this book, as I also expected, were the backstory: how Four and Henri arrived on Earth; why they left to begin with; folklore, history, and tradition associated with Lorian. In general, what I love most about science and/or speculative fiction is the ability of an author to create another world. And Pittacus Lore (a pseudonym that I’ll discuss more in a moment) sets up an interesting world.

But the execution of this story was merely good. I expected something phenomenal, and I didn’t quite get that. At times, the dialogue seemed a bit off, a bit too adult-trying-to-be-teenager. At other times, minor details in the story weren’t explained enough, and in science fiction, the beauty is in the details. For example, when the Mogadorians arrive, Four flees his school and goes back to his house. His girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend Mark (and, therefore, Four’s high school enemy) is sitting at his kitchen table on Four’s Cepan’s computer. It’s never explained why he’s there or how much he knows, but suddenly, Mark is fighting alongside Four and his friends. I was seriously bothered by the inconsistency in Mark’s attitude.

Nonetheless, the story kept me (mostly) interested. I read the book in a few days, and I’m looking forward to the movie. It may be one of those books that works better visually than textually. And I’ll definitely read any sequels that come out. But I’m not dying to know what happens next, as I did with the Hunger Games trilogy or the Chaos Walking trilogy.

One last thing about this book: Pittacus Lore is a pseudonym (obviously). The name will somehow come into play with the history of Lorian–there are references in this first book. I assumed, at first, that Lore was a new author on the scene and just established a pseudonym to go along with the content of the book. However, I searched him on Google after I noticed the first textual reference to a character named Pittacus, and I discovered that Pittacus Lore is actually a collaboration of James Frey and Jobie Hughes. (In fact, in the book, Henri creates new documents for Four to use in the future. Two of those names are “James Hughes” and “Jobie Frey.” Clever.) James Frey is the author of A Million Little Pieces, the “memoir” that Oprah chose for her book club several years ago that was later revealed to be a total fabrication. Frey had written a novel and published it as a memoir, sparking loads of controversy in the publishing world. It turns out that not only is Frey still publishing under his own name, but he’s also working on tons of projects using a variety of pseudonyms. Pittacus Lore is just one of those. This discovery about the real author may have had something to do with my disappointment with the book. I despise a lack of integrity, and no matter how great the writing or the story is, I already had a bad opinion of Frey.

All this to say, I would recommend this book. Just know that it has a few issues, and I wouldn’t rank it among the absolute best young adult novels I’ve read.

Here’s the trailer for the film. I’ve already spotted some differences between the book and the film, but I’m looking forward to seeing it nonetheless:

Your love is a symphony.

Friday, I headed down to Charleston for what was sure to be an epic adventure. I met up with my favorite Georgetown girl, Jessie, to see my two favorite bands, Civil Twilight and Switchfoot, play on the same stage at The Music Farm, this really awesome venue in downtown Charleston.

The fun began as I was driving down King Street, and I spotted Andrew McKellar walking down the sidewalk. Andrew is the guitarist for Civil Twilight and, therefore, awesome.

Jessie and I met up, parked in the visitors’ center parking garage and wandered around briefly. We then went back to the visitors’ center, and decided to kill a few minutes after realizing that if we moved our cars to the parking garage, we would only have to pay a flat fee of $2 for parking the rest of the evening. Just after 5 p.m., as we each drove into the parking garage, we spotted a man holding a camera standing on the sidewalk just inside the garage. Kneeling on the ground nearby was a shaggy-haired, blonde man writing with a black marker on pieces of cardboard.

The man with the camera was Andy Barron. The kneeling man was Jon Foreman.

I’m shocked Jessie and I managed to pull into the garage and find parking. I was literally jumping up and down seconds after I climbed out of my car. We rushed down to the lower level, where I high-fived Jon Foreman and Jessie chatted with Andy (friend of and photographer for Switchfoot) about his camera.

It was a beautiful moment and the show hadn’t even started yet. What followed was a delightfully simple few hours: walking up and down King Street, coffee at Starbucks, and a wonderful dinner at this tiny Italian restaurant where Jessie’s friend Luke is a waiter.

The show was magnificent, of course. Few members of the crowd knew anything about Civil Twilight, but by the time they started playing their cover of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop,” the crowd was totally hooked. I loved watching the reactions of people around me–I could see people texting and updating Facebook statuses about Civil Twilight, and when people began to recognize “Teardrop,” the excitement was palpable. I love this band. ๐Ÿ™‚

And Switchfoot just keeps getting better. It was my 6th time seeing them live (and my 10th seeing Civil Twilight!). One of the best moments came when Jon introduced the song “Your Love is a Song,” which is my favorite song from their latest album Hello Hurricane. He said he’d never tried to explain the inspiration for the song onstage before that night. Sadly, the video isn’t the right file type to upload to WordPress, but if decide to upload it to YouTube, I’ll be sure to post it on here later.

This isn’t a great photo, but it’s the only one I got of the whole band. Also, while it’s great to be in the middle of a crowd, it’s less great when you’re only 5’2″ and can’t actually see more than the hairstyles in front of you.

On Being a Groupie.

Civil Twilight played a show at the Handlebar last night, which was incredible, as always.

But during the show, I realized something interesting. Civil Twilight does an excellent cover version of the Massive Attack song “Teardrop.” I’ve heard them play it three times now. I can now tell within the firstย  few notes from Andrew Mckellar’s guitar that they’re starting to play “Teardrop.”

I’ve seen them enough times to recognize almost immediately when they’re playing a song that isn’t even their own. Yes, I’m that awesome fangirl. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hysteria

Can I just tell you how EPIC this week has been musically? Oh. My. Gosh.

First, new music:

1. Civil Twilight announced the release date for both their new single and their new album. If you follow my blog, you’ll notice that my last post is about this very subject.

2. While they haven’t announced an exact date, Switchfoot has mentioned (On Twitter, I think. Or maybe an email. Somewhere.) that their new album will be released in August/September. Only a few months away, as well!

Second, live music:

1. Harvin and I will celebrate our birthdays by going to Charlotte the weekend between them to see The Fray live! We shall be occupying the very same venue space as Isaac Slade and his piano! It’ll be sweet.

2. The MOST EPIC: Harvin bought our tickets to see U2’s 360 Tour in October in Charlotte…which MUSE is opening for! Oh, geez… Earlier, I spent six blissful minutes spaced out in the writing center, listening to “Knights of Cydonia” and imagining what it will be like to see Muse singing it live. Oh. My. Freakin’. Gosh.

It will look something like this:

Perhaps this is why I’ve been sick this week. I’m so pumped right now. Imagine if I’d been feeling well. I’d have spontaneously combusted at this point from sheer exhilaration.

Is there a word for “beyond epic”? Because that’s totally what the next six months of my life are gonna be. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s only love.

letters-from-the-skyOn April 28, it will have been a year since Civil Twilight opened for Switchfoot at The Orange Peel in Asheville, and my world was turned upside down. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but if you knew me at all last summer, you’ll also recognize that it’s not much of an exaggeration. ๐Ÿ™‚

Admittedly, I was OBSESSED for most of the entire summer. They are glorious. And if they had more than one album containing a mere 14 songs, they’d probably eclipse Switchfoot as my favorite band. As it is, they rank in the top 3.

But this post isn’t about that. I’ll get to my point:

On July 7, Civil Twilight is re-releasing their album Human as a self-titled album with several new tracks! (That also means that one day, when they’re famous, my autographed copy of Human will be worth big bucks. Not that I’d ever sell it…) Hybrid Magazine already has a review up (it’s terribly written and actually only talks about the songs that are already on Human, but you can read it anyway, if you’d like).

Even better news: they’re releasing the first (new!) single on May 12! OMG…less than a month away!

I’m not hyperventilating. I promise. But after they release the album, they’re supposed to start a national tour! That’s gotta include Greenville…the city where they lived for several years…right? I can’t wait for the tour dates to be announced. How many shows do you think I can manage? (I doubt I’ll beat the three-shows-in-eight-days record from April/May of last year, but I aim to try!) Also, how many more times do you think I’ll have to meet Steven (the gorgeous lead singer) before he’ll remember me and know we’re destined to be at least BFFs? ๐Ÿ™‚

Seriously though, this is GREAT news that I’ve been waiting a long time for. Civil Twilight and a new album with several new songs and a tour! YES!!!!

And just in case you’ve never seen it, here’s the video for “Letters from the Sky,” which will inevitably be one of their biggest hits (and ladies, try not to drool on your keyboard):