This book was horribly written. The prose was stilted, the dialogue obviously written by someone who has been out of touch with teenagers for several decades, and there were a number of gaping plotholes requiring some serious suspension of disbelief. "Pittacus Lore", who we all know by now is James Frey, completely ignores the cardinal rule of storytelling: "show, don't tell". The high school scenes seemed particularly contrived - oh, you're the new kid in school, made friends with the nerd, the jock is picking on you and the principal sides with him because he's the star athlete? Can you fit a few more cliches in there? The main character, the titular "Number Four" takes the far-too-obvious alias "John Smith" and no one bats an eye. Seriously, I kept waiting for someone to hang a lampshade
on that ridiculousness. The characters are all very weak and needed to be given some personality or backstory. One of the villains becomes an ally midway through with absolutely no explanation, and the love story is so cheesy I rolled my eyes every time Sarah and "John" talked to each other. Did Frey lift those lines out of some Harlequinn romance novel? 15-year-olds do NOT talk like that, even if they are aliens. Parts of it read suspiciously like a rough manuscript that was rushed to press in order to ride on the coattails of other recent popular YA sci-fi and fantasy.
Somehow though, I didn't completely hate it. The plot is quite decent, there are some really neat concepts (such as the scar warnings when one of the kids is killed), and the story is fast-paced and has enough suspense to be a real page-turner - I finished it in one sitting, in fact. It included basically every alien trope ever invented, for better or worse. I'll probably end up reading the next one, complaining the whole way through. I just need to know what that goddamn letter says.