I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Imagine if aliens lived among us. Not the aliens you might think of immediately (like E.T.), but aliens who cloud blend in, who look just like us. We would never know, they could be anyone: your next-door neighbor, your own best friend.

John Smith, to everyone around him, appears to be a typical teenage boy beginning his sophomore year of high school in Paradise, Ohio. But in actuality, John Smith is but one of many of his fake identities. His real name, if you could even really call it that, is Number Four. He comes from a planet far, far, away called Lorien. He is one of the nine powerful children who were taken to Earth about ten years ago, before Lorien was attacked by another alien planet: Mogadore.

Before the nine children were sent to Earth, they were each assigned a number (one through nine), and a Loric elder cast a charm, making it so that, should the Mogadorians ever go after these nine remaining Lorien descendants, they would only be able to kill them in order of the their numbers. Thus far, numbers one through three have been hunted down and killed by the Mogadorians, and John Smith, who is number four, knows that he is next.

When I first heard of this book, and was told that it was about aliens, I honestly didn’t have very high expectations for it. That probably wouldn’t have been the case for everyone, I just don’t typically like stories/books that are about aliens. But, when I started reading it, I immediately knew that I wouldn’t be able to stop. Luckily for me, this is a series, and three of the books were out when I started. Now, there are a total of seven in the series, the most recent having come out last year.

I can’t really pinpoint what it is about this book that sets it apart from other stories about aliens. Maybe it’s because the Loric look like us? I really don’t know, but I do really love this series, and I love all the characters that are introduced later on in the series as well. Despite the fact that three different authors have contributed to this series (all under the pseudonym of Pittacus Lore), the story flows very smoothly, and I could never wait for the next book to come out.

I don’t know how many times I’ve re-read this book, but it must be a lot because my copy’s falling apart (the only thing that’s holding it together is scotch tape). It’s definitely a great read, but don’t start unless you haven’t got anything planned for the rest of the day because trust me, you won’t be able to put it down.

-Elina T.

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Steal Across the Sky by Nancy Kress

Steal Across the Sky, by Nancy Kress, is a sci-fi book about the effect an alien race, the Atoners, have upon humanity.  Showing up in the not-very-distant future, they state that they have committed a crime against humanity, and ask people from all over the world to submit applications for the opportunity to go to space in order to witness their crime. A few dozen people are chosen, and of them, only about six come back to Earth having actually witnessed the crime. The story focuses mainly on four characters and how they deal with the revelation. When they had returned from space, those who had witnessed the crime inform their governments and people of what they had witnessed, and this although leads to radical and terrorist groups springing up, for the most part, it does not greatly affect the society that the characters are living in or how it runs. Interspersed throughout the book are ads and, at some point, an email, that take the scope of the story away from just the characters and show the Atoners’ impact on (mainly) the U.S..

Personally, I found that the book started off strongly, and at first I was going to stop reading, but I wanted to find out what crime the Atoners had committed. Then, after I found out, I kept reading because the author didn’t reveal what remedial action the Atoners had promised to take for their crime until the very end of the book. The one thing that really bothered me about the book was that the author never revealed why the Atoners had come to Earth and committed their crime, but otherwise, I thought the plot was unique and well-written.

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

wearetheants_shaundavidhutchinsonIf you knew the world was going to end, but you had the power to stop it, would you?

For Henry Denton, this is not such an easy question. The aliens who regularly abduct Henry, referred to as sluggers, gave him this choice. Henry does not think living is worth it: his father left when he was young, his mother lives a terrible life, his grandmother has Alzheimer’s, his older brother quit school, his best friend committed suicide, he has a secret but abusive relationship, and he is regularly mocked for being “Space Boy.” There seems to be no end to his troubles. Wouldn’t everyone just be better off if they were all wiped off the face of the earth? No one would have to suffer, his grandmother’s life would not have to fall apart before her eyes, his soon-to-be niece would not have to grow up in such a terrible world.

We Are the Ants follows Henry as he discovers how to live in this world, which turns out not to be as bad as he thought. People surprise Henry. People encourage him. People help him find closure. They help Henry decide whether or not to push the button to save the world.

What I thought would be a science fiction book about a boy abducted by aliens was definitely not what I ended up reading. This book comments on how terrible life can get but how perfect the little things can seem. My favorite part was the relationship between Henry and his grandmother, who frequently forgets Henry’s name. I loved seeing how Henry transformed throughout the novel to the point that he gave the perfect gift of memory to his grandmother. This novel is a bit strong for younger teens, but reading it certainly alters one’s perspective on life, so I would definitely recommend it.

– Leila S.

We Are The Ants is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive

The Last Star by Rick Yancey

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The Last Star is the third installment of The 5th Wave, the #1 New York Times bestselling series by Rick Yancey. It takes main characters Cassie Sullivan: a girl who has only survived this long by shelving her own emotions for the greater good, Ben “Zombie” Parish: a high school quarterback turned strike team commander with nothing left to lose, Marika “Ringer”: a former human transformed into a super powered alien weapon who is nearly unkillable, and Evan Walker: an Other who has developed a conscience, through war upon death upon betrayal upon apocalypse as they desperately try to fight back against the god-like “Others” who have all but destroyed the human race. Together, the survivors must face impossible odds, risking the lives of not only themselves, but those whom they love to defeat, an unseen enemy they aren’t even sure exists. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, certain Others may have taken human form, and what remains of the human race can’t even trust themselves. To survive, each person must endure challenges and do deeds they would have never thought possible, including murdering an old lady in cold blood and going into mechanical warfare against a genetically altered priest. And the one question they must ask themselves remains the same: what is humanity if you take away that which makes us human?

I loved this book and the entire trilogy. It’s just such a uniquely written masterpiece that truly tampers with human emotion like no other piece of literature I’ve read before.  It brilliantly examines each piece of the story from different points of view with its four unique narrators, and twists the story upon itself so many times that it’s impossible to predict the ending, which was not at all disappointing by the way. My favorite part of this series is the way that it describes an alien takeover.  In real life, if aliens ever decided to come take over Earth, they wouldn’t land in dinky little ships and come out with little laser guns. In real life, the aliens would do exactly what they do in this series, which you’ll have to read to find out.  I wouldn’t change anything about this book, even if I could, it was just that well written.

I would and have recommended this book though I felt the first movie was a weak showing of the book. People who are fans of Sci-Fi, apocalyptic stuff, survival shows, or anything made by Michael Bay would enjoy this series.

-Evan G.

The Last Star is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive

Assassination Classroom by Yusei Matsui

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Almost none of us like school, that’s for sure. But what if your school held a competition where poor students and delinquents are sent to the “END” class, to be bullied every single day? How would it feel to be told that you’re the worst of the worst, and that everyone else is better than you, and the only way to get better is through mindless studying?

And what if your savior is a yellow octopus whose hobbies are being weak and loves the word “tentacles”?

Enter class 3-E (considered 9th grade in America), whose students consist of one genius psychopath, a few smart kids that failed on tests because of various non-school related things, and a whole bunch of people who just don’t get the material or don’t study. Their new teacher, an octopus alien that can run at Mach 20 (twenty times the speed of sound) named Koro-sensei, who is really good at teaching but has plans to destroy the Earth just like how he reduced the moon to 70% of its original size. Because of this, the Japanese FBI takes a vested interest in the class and teaches the kids something they actually might be good at: the art of assassination.

This manga will set you on a roller coaster. As I was reading the chapters, I saw everything from a serious plot line to absolute comedy to tear-jerking moments to back to comedy and repeat about 100 times. The genre could be described as an action/comedy, but there are some tragic moments too. Additionally, for those who only like to read manga that has finished its run, this manga is set to end by mid-March, with 180 chapters of 20 pages or so each.

Finally, despite his 40 or so weaknesses, there is a thing or two we can learn from Koro-sensei. He teaches us that it’s okay to be weak, and that while we may only want to ace in one subject, we should try our best in others because all subjects are related. The reader actually learns a thing or too in school subjects too.

All in all, everybody, no matter what preference, can enjoy this manga.

-Megan V., 10th Grade

Assassination Classroom is available for check out at the Mission Viejo Library