Sunday 18 July 2010

Unbooking: I Am Number Four

No Bag o' Speculative Swag for you today, fair readers. Something came in the mail a few days ago that deserves more comprehensive treatment than I'm afraid The BoSS allows for. Without further ado, have a gander at this little beauty:

This has to be the most luxurious proof I've ever laid eyes on - and I hate orange. As a flavour, it's fine; as a colour, it's so lurid as to be borderline offensive. And I Am Number Four is all about the orange.

But here, the orange is used, I think, to great effect, in striking opposition to the stark white of the symbol that adorns both the book and the slipcase. Oh, did I not mention the slipcase?

'Tis, truly, a beautiful thing. Publisher Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin here in the UK, have pulled out all the stops to ensure I Am Number Four by - get this - a gentleman called Pittacus Lore stands out from the crowd. As well it should do. Make no mistake: this is the next Next Big Thing in genre fiction.

I know, I know. The Passage is only barely behind us, and already we're looking ahead. The hype train simply cares not for such things. If Penguin have their way, and from what little I've read I tend to think they will, I Am Number Four will be everywhere you look in a month's time. Courtesy of Transformers egomaniac Michael Bay, in fact, the film adaptation is currently in production, with Timothy Olyphant in a starring role and Disturbia director D. J. Caruso at the helm. You'll have to wait till next Summer to see the movie; the book, however, can be yours as of August 26th. Here's the plot synopsis:

"John Smith is not your average teenager. He regularly moves from small town to small town. He changes his name and identity. He does not put down roots. He cannot tell anyone who or what he really is. If he stops moving those who hunt him will find and kill him.

"But you can't run forever. So when he stops in Paradise, Ohio, John decides to try and settle down. To fit in. And for the first time he makes some real friends. People he cares about – and who care about him. Never in John's short life has there been space for friendship, or even love. But it's just a matter of time before John's secret is revealed. He was once one of nine. Three of them have been killed. John is Number Four. He knows that he is next..."

Which is all well and good - if rather unremarkable, right? Well. The thing of it is, John isn't actually human. He's one of nine alien children sent away from his dying homeworld in the hope of prolonging his race. He has superpowers. And a bounty on his head.

It's all a bit Superman origin story, I suppose, but I Am Number Four has a fine hook, not to mention a neat lede-line, and from what I can tell, it's persuasively written, too. This is my current read, and you can count on a full review in the near future. For the moment, let's just say it's looking pretty good for Pittacus Lore - whom, I should add, is "a Loric Elder, from the Planet Lorien, which is three hundred million miles away. He is approximately ten thousand years old. He has been to earth hundreds of times, and he is here now."

That is when he's not busy being James Frey, whose A Million Little Pieces, a supposed memoir of drug addiction, came under fire on Oprah and in the American media for being, ummm... somewhat embellished.

But let's not end this unbooking on a bum note. I Am Number Four has zeitgeist written all over it, and though neither the regular edition nor the re-jacketed release for the YA market are as superficially remarkable as the ARC, I don't imagine that'll stop Pittacus Lore's blockbuster first novel from flying off shelves come publication day.

One to watch, people. One to watch.

1 comment:

  1. Why not show what they look like with the slipcases. I for one would like to get these for myself but it's a jungle out there, so many publishers etc. and in the actual stores they don't carry any of them.
    Help a girl out?
    / ferida sweden.