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GUEST REVIEW: The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore (Pseudonym of James Frey and Jobie Hughes)

[SF Signal welcomes the return of guest reviewer Jason Sanford!]

REVIEW SUMMARY: As with the first novel in this series, The Power of Six is derivative and not very original. However, the novel is fast-paced and exciting and is a good gateway novel for readers new to science fiction.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Nine young aliens hide on Earth after the destruction of their world by the evil Mogadorians. Now, though, the aliens are beginning to fight back, both to save themselves and their adopted world.

PROS: A quick, exciting read which should appeal to the same readers who enjoyed I Am Number Four.
CONS: Extremely derivative, with no explanation of the science behind this “science fiction” novel.
BOTTOM LINE: If you’re a long-time reader of science fiction, you will find nothing new here but may still enjoy the ride. But if you need a novel to interest a young person into reading more science fiction, The Power of Six would be a good choice.

So this is what a sputtering multi-media campaign feels like.

Last year’s I Am Number Four, the first book in the Lorien Legacies series masterminded by literati gadfly James Frey, was a decent science fiction book aimed at genre newcomers. As I remarked at the time, no matter how irritating Frey can be, he earned points in my book by giving the science fiction field a sorely needed entry-level novel aimed at young people. For years science fiction has ignored the need for novels like this to bring new readers into our genre (as opposed to the fantasy genre, where half the books target young readers). It was my hope that I Am Number Four would succeed at bringing new people to the universe of written SF.

But then came the film version of I Am Number Four, released barely six months after the book’s debut. Instead of giving the series time to build an audience in the same manner as successful fantasies like the Harry Potter series, the film reeked of cynicism and fakery. My son, who loved the novel —please note, he’s one of those new readers SF should be going after—hated the movie. That was the first time he ever told me the film was worse than the book.

Audiences responded in kind. While the film version of I Am Number Four did decent business, it wasn’t the blockbuster Hollywood clearly hoped for. Plans for future films in the series suddenly were placed on hold.

Now we have the release of The Power of Six, the second book in the Lorien Legacies series. Jointly written by Frey and Jobie Hughes under the pseudonym of Pittacus Lore, the novel continues the tale of nine young aliens called Loriens who hide on Earth after the destruction of their world by the evil Mogadorians. Three of the Loriens have already been killed and the Mogadorians are now after Number Four, who like all his fellow aliens is protected by what seem like superpowers.

The Power of Six picks up right where the previous novel left off, with Number Four on the run alongside his human friend Sam and fellow alien Six. They are pursued by both the Mogadorians and the human authorities, who wrongly believe Four and his friends are terrorists.

Their story alternates with that of Number Seven, who is living as an orphan in a convent in Spain. Seven’s protector has given up on her duty, leaving Seven to fend for herself against the orphanage’s cruel nuns. But Seven isn’t passively waiting for the Mogadorians to locate and kill her. Instead, she wants to seek out her fellow Loriens so they can fight together.

As with the first novel, The Power of Six will offer little to long-time lovers of science fiction. The science behind this novel is non-existent, with no explanations for how the aliens’ superpowers and new-agey technology works, or how their spaceships cross the vast reaches of space so quickly. However, that’s almost beside the point. The story is full of action and excitement with characters readers relate to—key requirements for a novel aimed at young people.

Aside from the derivative content, my only other serious complaint is that The Power of Six awkwardly alternates between different viewpoint characters. In a third-person novel, this is rarely a big issue. However, The Power of Six is told in the first person and these POV shifts take some getting used to. The fact that the publisher decided to use different fonts to illustrate these shifts indicates I wasn’t the only person with concerns around this technical flaw.

But despite these complaints, The Power of Six is a fun, quick read. And my son, who is still within the target audience for this series, loved this novel as much as the first one. He’s already asking when the third book will be released.

Yes, James Frey is exploitative, however, he also had a good idea in creating this science fiction series for young people. My only hope is the powers-that-be suspend the straight-to-film campaign around this series long enough for these novels to capture the readers they deserves. So Hollywood, take note: We really don’t want to see a film version of The Power of Six anytime soon.

About Jason Sanford (19 Articles)
Jason Sanford has published a number of stories in the British SF magazine Interzone, which devoted a special issue to his fiction in December 2010. In addition, his fiction has been published in Year's Best SF 14, Asimov's, Analog, Intergalactic Medicine Show, Tales of the Unanticipated, The Mississippi Review, Diagram, Pindeldyboz, and other places (along with being translated into Chinese, French, Russian, and Czech). He is a three-time winner of the Interzone Readers' Poll and was a finalist for the 2009 Nebula Award for Best Novella. He also co-founded the literary journal storySouth, through which he runs the annual Million Writers Award for best online fiction, and writes a monthly column for the Czech SF magazine XB-1. SF Signal published the English version of this column. His website is <a href="//”"></a>.
Contact: Website

9 Comments on GUEST REVIEW: The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore (Pseudonym of James Frey and Jobie Hughes)

  1. Nicky Drayden // August 30, 2011 at 1:38 pm //

    “Well, the book’s a pretty bad potboiler, with a story and plot so derivative, ill-conceived and ill-designed a condensation like the flick it spawned makes blatantly obvious what kind of kludge you just read, but since there’s the remote possibility it could be the entry drug for new buye- err, I mean readers who’re introduced to other SF, like mine for instance, I think I can give it three stars.”

    Thank you for informative review, Jason!

  2. Nicky Drayden // August 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm //

    “Well, the book’s a pretty bad potboiler, with a story and plot so derivative, ill-conceived and ill-designed a condensation like the flick it spawned makes blatantly obvious what kind of kludge you just read, but since there’s the remote possibility it could be the entry drug for new buye- err, I mean readers who’re introduced to other SF, like mine for instance, I think I can give it three stars.”

    Thank you for informative review, Jason!

  3. Nicky Drayden // August 30, 2011 at 1:42 pm //

    … curse you, tenuous server connection and affiliated glitches!

  4. Carla Quinn // September 7, 2011 at 6:35 am //

    Well, I have to say that I completely disagree with the review on the first page. I read the first book (I am number Four) a year ago. I have been patiently waiting for the second book to come out and am now finished. I thought the book was very good! It is a secong book in a series…. It has done what it needs to do. It has introduced new characters and given us a taste of the powers of the characters. It has wet my appitite for the next book. This is what a second book should do. It eludes us to the fantastic things to come, and also opens the series up to incredable possiblities! We got to see the full force of Six’s powers, we now know that Johns love life it not so cut and dry. We have number seven who seems to have been developed as a character along the way, which excites me as to what her legacies and capabilities will bring for the next books. We have also met number ten (Ella). I am dying to know her back story and where that will lead as she arrived on a second ship, not the same ship that the original nine arrived on. And what else was with her on that second ship? What will she contribute as far as legasies are concerned? (hers have not developed yet). We have also met number Nine, who seems a little crazy but full of power and not afraid to whip some mogs! I am dying to find out where his character will take us and if he will end up adding some comic relief to the story? This is what a second book is supposed to do people! We have so much to look forwards to, and if anything they have set the bar really high for the third book! They have to answer at least a few of these questions that have been raised, as well as introduce a few more. Not to mentioned that they have left the field open for a few twists and turns. We have still to find out about the big bad Mog who arrived on the ship at the end of the book? Is he the only one? Are there more like him? I am very much looking forwards to the third book and am interested to find out how many books are in the series! Just how crazy can it all get! And I for one do hope that Hollywood make a film for the second book asap! I would rather watch the film without knowing what the end of the series is, than watch the film for the second book all whilst knowing how the series ends! I like to have a little intrigue in my life, I cannot be the only one! And yes the author did not explain how the lorien technology actually works! But there is still time…. And besides I have a feeling we are only entering the first few stages of this story and i think the ending may be epic! Screw how the stones work. I cannot wait to see how all the characters will interact together in the next book! And we have yet to find number eight and number five! Only then perhaps there will be a major counter strike against the Mogs! And can they succeed, as there are supposed to be 10 of them but 3 are already dead! And will they ever get back to Lorien? Where will the final battle take place? Or should I say what planet! I urge everyone to enjoy the ride, and stop being critial of everything. It is still early days in the series, and besides this is supposed to be a bit of Sci Fi paranormal Fantasy/ fiction. Just escape a lilttle!

  5. Maybe you can have the author on the podcast!

  6. I couldn’t have said it better than you and yes, there were some disappointments when I read it.  Nonetheless, I find it really intriguing and the Lorien history is something that has been lacking in young adult books.  I sort of got fed up with vampires and angel stories, or magic and I needed to be transported to another time or another world at that – such as this one.  Thanks for your insights though! 

  7. I thought the books ‘I am Number Four’ and ‘The Power of Six’ were absolutely amazing. I couldn’t have asked for anything better!

    It was filled with action and a lot more of the answers to some of the questions that “John Smith” (Number Four) was questioning in the last book (or movie) and unravels part of the mystery of Sam Goode’s missing Dad and what has happened in Six’s past (like how her cêpan Katerina died, where she was, and how she managed the Mogadorians). Although the movie is SO different from the book, it still gives you something new under the category of science fiction and plus, what movie is EXACTLY the same as the book, right?
    There should definitely be a movie for ‘The Power of Six’ and the other future sequels like ‘The Rise of Nine’ and so on.

    I encourage all you action, sci-fi loving fans to urge the producers, directors and screenwriters to make movies for the sequels.
    You don’t have to agree with me but I thought the Lorien Legacies Series and the movie was amazing. In my opinion, one of my all time favorite movies.<3

    P.S. The only reason I didn't talk about much that happened is because I don't want to accidentally give away any spoilers 🙂


    • Although I can say that we’re yet to be introduced to Number Five and Eight! 🙂

      • i think book 1-3 are amazing.i am hoping they come out with the movie for the power of six soon.

        p.s you meet number 9 and 8 in the third book

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