Though the first novel in the Lorien Legacies Series, I Am Number Four did well as a novel, the film did not fare so well. This second book in the series, The Power of Six, probably won’t follow its predecessor to the big screen for many reasons. Though it holds a lot of promise for the future of the series as a whole, it sacrifices its own tale for those that will follow it.
I Am Number Four left readers with the main character, John Smith, on the run with his human friend, Sam, and number Six, another member of the Lorien Garde. Running from both the human police and the alien Mogadorian enemies of the Loriens, John and the others work to build their own strengths and skills. Simultaneously in Spain, Marina (Number Seven) is stuck in a religious orphanage where her cépan, Adelina, brought her years before as part of a crisis of faith in their Lorien mission. Struggling without the guidance of her guardian, Marina befriends a younger girl new to the orphanage and helps protect her from the bullying of the older girls.
Switching between John’s narration and Marina’s, The Power of Six spends most of its time cleaning up the messes of I Am Number Four and setting up for the next books in the series. The first novel left on such an open-ended note, it’s easy to see that there probably wasn’t too much of a plan in mind for the rest of the series. Since the first book was finished, the author seems to have sat down and come up with a larger, more detailed plan for the series as a whole.
Unfortunately, that requires fixing some of the elements from that first book that no longer fit the overarching plot. In this case, it makes for a lot of messy exposition with some action sequences that felt forced and sloppy (at least until the novel’s dual climax). Though most of the new characters in The Power of Six are fine and fleshed out, the way that the now unnecessary characters from I Am Number Four are handled just doesn’t seem right, particularly the dismissals of Sarah and Henri.
It can be argued that what was done to Henri’s character was just part of the standard process of taking the revered mentor figure and humanizing him, a regular step in the growth of the student on his own. But everything that was done with Sarah’s character in this second novel was messy. She may not have been much of a fleshed out character, even in I Am Number Four, but that doesn’t mean that she has to be left to fall complete flat and clichéd. Maybe she’ll be back later in the series, but after the way the character was handled in this second piece, I don’t think anyone will care if she does. These two were so central to the first novel that this way of handling them completely undermines almost everything the reader takes from book one.
These characters were only the first in a few “rules” established in I Am Number Four that underwent significant changes during The Power of Six, leaving this second installment weak and directionless in its own right. Even the title, so promising in those first few pages, becomes meaningless by the end of the novel. Providing more direction in the concluding pages, hopefully the third episode in this series will find itself on surer footing with better character development and a better explanation for the changing “rules” of the series’ premise.