Book Review, Reflection: United As One by Pittacus Lore

On the second-to-last day of 2016, I finished United As One and the entire Lorien Legacies series. There are still a few of the side novellas I have not read, but as far as the main series is concerned, I have completed it. The journey, the war, is over. Minor spoiler: we won. Obviously, no one would be around to write the book if we didn’t, but still. Reaching the final page before the epilogue, I had to sigh in relief. There were chapters when I wondered if it was all going to be for nothing, if the ending was going to be some twisted disappointment, but no. There were casualties, but as a new day dawns, humanity and the Loriens are still standing, and the Mogadorians have fallen.

In case you are completely lost at this point, let me back up a little bit. United As One is the seventh and final book in the Lorien Legacies series by Pittacus Lore. This is a young adult science fiction series which I began reading in high school. The first book, I Am Number Four, was made into a movie approximately a year after its 2010 release. Unfortunately, the movie did very poorly in theatres, and there have been no more and are no plans for additional movies. I read I Am Number Four in high school, not long after its initial release. The story grabbed my attention, but the book was fairly slow, so I did not immediately get really into the series. For a few years I paid no attention to the series.

However, because the premise was so intriguing, and because I was in a definite sci-fi reading phase, a few years later I picked up the second book, The Power of Six. I read this book quickly, and was sucked into the world of Loriens and Mogadorians for good.

Each book in the series contains the following epigraph in the first few pages: “The events in this book are real. Names and places have been changed to protect the Lorien, who remain in hiding. Other civilizations do exist. Some of them seek to destroy you.” Obviously, I don’t believe a word of that, but it puts a fun spin on the story. The general premise is this: A benevolent and highly advanced alien race, at least some of whom possess what they call “legacies” and normal humans would call super powers, were overrun by another alien race, this one malicious and crude. As their planet fell, the Loriens (the good guys) sent nine of their next-generation protectors, called Garde, and their guardians to Earth in hopes that they would be able to hide from the Mogadorians (the mean aliens) and, eventually, fight back. What exactly this means is altered throughout the series. Each of the children is assigned a number, and because of some sort of charm, as long as they are separated from one another, the children can only die in order of their number. For example, Number One must be killed first, then Two, and so on; when Number Six is captured while at least Number Five is still alive, she cannot be harmed. At the opening of the series, the children have lived on Earth for several years and are now around sixteen years old. Numbers One through Three have been killed, thus Number Four is next for the Mogadorians, and the fact that he is the one telling the story is significant.

For me, the series peaked somewhere around The Fall of Five or The Revenge of Seven. As I said before, it started out kind of slow. It picked up quite a bit in the next two books, and each one seemed to be a bit better than the last…until The Revenge of Seven. Following this, The Fate of Ten often just felt like a shoot-‘em-up, without substantial plot movement. And while I eagerly anticipated United As One, in a way I was glad when it was over. The series just seemed to run out of steam; even though things which should have still been interesting were happening, it just wasn’t as enjoyable anymore. Not only did the characters grow and mature, the overall tone of the series changed into something that just could not hold my attention as well anymore. Additionally, the language went downhill as the series progressed, and by the final book, it became distracting and, while always unappreciated, reached the point of being entirely out of place and beyond unnecessary.

Reading the Lorien Legacies series has been an enjoyable literary journey. It is a crazy, sometimes frustrating roller coaster ride of science fiction which I am glad I read. This is not a series I plan to reread, but it will hold a fond place in my memory. United As One effectively ties up most of the loose ends from throughout the series, without excessive information about the “after”. There is always something a little nostalgic and sad about coming to the end of a series and looking back over the years invested in those characters, situations, and journey. However, this is a good ending. It comes at a good time, without drawing out the story just for the sake of more books, but having taken adequate time to give a detailed explanation of the story. I finished United As One just one day before New Year’s Eve, and I like the image of the Garde beginning their new lives amid the backdrop of a New Year and new beginnings.

Who knows what new series I might start in 2017, or what new adventures I will take, between the covers of a book or in reality. I’m pretty sure I will not be battling menacing alien invaders anytime soon, but you can’t be certain about these kinds of things!

Whatever your new year brings, I hope it is filled with blessings and books. If you’re up for an adventurous science fiction series with an abundance of novellas on the side, interested in aliens or super powers, or know of a middle schooler (or anyone older!) who does not like to read but might read something that at times reads like an action movie, I suggest checking out the Lorien Legacies series by Pittacus Lore.

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