The Fall of Five is the latest book in the Lorien Legacies series by James Frey and Jobie Hughes, the stories about super-powered alien youth sent to Earth to protect it from the alien invasion that destroyed their own home world.
The series’ premise was promising. Children hunted, living on the run with guardians, waiting to develop the power to change/save the world was a wonderful metaphor for the anticipated becoming of several stages in life, but particularly relevant to those of us at the age, or who still remember that stand-on-your-toes-hold-your-breath eager wait for our growing years to kick in. It’s wasn’t just physical, either. The movie I am Number Four included an excellent supporting role Four’s Teacher, Henri (played by Timothy Olyphant). An alien-based super-hero romp was worth checking out.
When I read the first book in the series I was hooked. Everything that I loved about the movie was present, and most of the the things that I disliked about the film had disappeared. The teen versus parent hostility was a Hollywood dynamic, and the burgeoning warrior genuinely loved and respected his guardian. The romance was less hormonal and more innocently star-struck. Friendships were more honest, and even the best special effects budget can’t hold a candle to the God-given theater we all carry along in our head. Our heroes set good examples in the face of schoolyard bullies, show the benefit of a good mind and some education on Sam’s part, and generally act like honest-to-goodness heroes.
But every successive book in the series has been a bigger disappointment. In the next book the authors take pot-shots at committed loving relationships, saying that multiple loves is just a Loric thing. Then they undermine their super-heroes roll by placing their human side-kick at a multiple-monster-slayer level after a few months’ kung fu classes on the run. Powers were inconsistent, and the bad guys had limitless resources. (Sorry authors, aliens on the planet with the cooperation of all the world’s governments aren’t invading. They have already invaded and won.)
Powers, which were originally considered to be genetic, turn out to be a gift of their old planet for being such good and considerate atheist environmentalists. Honestly, there are no gods but planets can think, feel, and give super-powers? How are the super-powers still working if the planet that gives them is dead?
And things went downhill from there. Sam, their human friend who gave up everything out of loyalty, gets left behind by Lorics who aren’t really all that shaken up about it.
The Rise of Nine treated us to a guided tour of how abusive and repressive a mockery of Christian education is, some minor genocide, and the teens getting together at last. Remember that human we left behind to be captured and tortured by the evil Mogodorians? If you do, you’ve got one up on the Loric heroes.
Reading The Fall of Five I began to wish that they hadn’t, or that the story had stopped with the first book. The Loric teen titans spend their time cussing at one another and sharing beds in their new base, when they aren’t threatening to or trying to beat one another up. I would positively hate this book if it weren’t for the heroics of the humans, Sam and his father, who rescue themselves from prison and then pull the wayward group of Garde heroes together.
The plot of the latest book is predictable. As a tiny hint for aspiring writers, don’t place your dramatic plot twist in your title. Amazingly, Five is a traitor. Wow. The only real positive development is that the girlfriend-swapping Lorics un-swap and are all right with that, and it turns out that humans really can help in a fight.
One particularly dyspeptic moment in the book is when one of the super-powered aliens discovers that she was not chosen by the enlightened elite rulers of her world. Her father owned his own business, bought a spaceship, and saved his own daughter. The other aliens try desperately to comfort her about the shame of it all. So, if you work hard, perhaps earn enough to create some jobs, and want to try and provide for your children your own way, beware of the shame that writers like Pittacus Lore want to foist upon your children! How dare she survive, and also save many helpless animals as well?!
But honestly, buy the first book. It is amazing.
Then make up your own ending to the story. It will probably be a better one than the current story by Pittacus Lore. Every book settles for more knee-jerk politically correct unoriginal simplicity.
The literary style commits one terrible faux pas over and over. The books are written in the first person, from multiple points of view within the same chapter. Every scene break meant I spent the first two or three paragraphs searching for clues as to which person was now speaking as “I did this”. It’s a literary crime to do that to one’s readers. The first book should have been first person. Otherwise, perhaps one or the other member of the writing team should have accepted that a change in voice was better than a scrambled voice.
Disappointing all around.