2010’s young adult novel ‘I Am Number Four’ introduced us to the Lorien Legacies series, charting the struggle between the Mogadorians (boo-hiss baddies) and the numerically named Garde (teenage good guys with latent super powers who can only be killed in order of their numbers), both of whom have infiltrated Earth for reasons of destruction or survival. Written by Pittacus Lore (technically James Frey and Jobie Hughes) it’s a good concept for a series, starting with a fairly standard good guy/bad guy setup in the vein of Transformers’ Autobots vs Decepticons backstory, where the protagonists end up marooned on Earth facing an against-the-odds battle to survive and hopefully rebuild their world. Despite having spawned a critically-maligned film version the book series is still going strong, with ‘The Fall of Five’ being the (confusingly) fourth novel in the series so far.
The evil Mogadorians are fairly loosely-drawn, largely not much more than disposable goons, but the Garde are the kind of characters that young adult (and young at heart) readers can identify with easily and enjoy watching, as they develop their cool powers and stand up to the threats facing them. The first book set the tone of the series and started things off with Number Four as he found himself the next in line to be targeted, his three predecessors having all been bumped off already. Over the next two books we were introduced to most of the surviving Garde, and now in the fourth novel we see all of the survivors, both Garde and human friends, united for the first time. They finally feel as though things are going their way, but as events are coming to a head the group is going to have to work hard to stick together and become more than the sum of their parts.
As with the previous books it’s well plotted, fast-paced and full of exciting action scenes with little time to breathe between set pieces. This time round we get three characters’ viewpoints, so as well as Number Four we see things through the eyes of his human friend Sam and also Number Seven. This helps to keep the pace up as the different storylines are tied together, but at times gets confusing as two of the different voices (and fonts) become difficult to tell apart.
Written in a simple, conversational style it’s very much a page-turner, relying on the fun premise and plenty of action to keep the reader involved. It’s not the best-written book, even by the standards of the genre, but there’s enough excitement and forward motion that once hooked it’s hard to put the book down. With a range of add-on short stories and novellas, as well as three more novels planned, there’s plenty of fun to be had with this series. If you want high-quality writing it’s worth looking elsewhere, but if you’re looking for an enjoyable bit of escapism it’s pretty much spot on.