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 . . .
I started reading this a few days after I saw the film and couldn’t help comparing the two even as I was reading. The film was an enjoyable couple of hours which was a little slow to start with action packed at the end - a little like a snickers with most of the peanuts at one end. The main difference that struck me about the book was the age of the main characters – in the film they had been 17 (but obviously played by twenty-something as is the norm in Hollywood!), but in the book John Smith, is only 14, maybe 15. This makes a huge difference in terms of driving and other elements which occur throughout the book. I think the trouble with reading a book so soon is the constant comparison you do in your head – ‘that’s not how it happened on screen!’ you mutter to yourself and it’s difficult to be truly objective.
However judged on its own, this was an enjoyable read – the prose flowed well and the ideas well expanded. Some characters are a little thin – Sarah, John’s girlfriend is a little weak and I never really felt like I got to know her that well. In fact, I was a little annoyed by the amount of screaming she did and that even without make-up, she was the prettiest girl. I think part of this is because the story is told in first person from John’s point of view and being love, he’s not the most objective person! I liked Henri though and the development of John’s rival Mark James is nicely done.
Will I pick up the next book in this series? Probably, but I won’t rush out for it.
Recommended for fans of the Vampire Diaries and Dawson’s Creek. 6 out of 10.
Part of FTC's Speculative Fiction Challenge Book 5/12