Title: The Fall of Five
Author: Pittacus Lore
Series: The Lorien Legacies book 4
Previous books: I am Number Four, The Power of Six, The Rise of Nine
First Sentence: “Tonight’s escape fantasy stars Six.”
Rating: 4 out of 5 Legacies
Nine Garde- children born with awesome powers called Legacies- destined for greatness, are chosen by the elders of their race to survive an apocalypse, beat the bad guys and restore Lorien to its glory. There is a prophesy that one of the nine will have particularly awesome powers – the mantel of Pittacus Lore, most revered of the Elders – and be able to defeat the head bad guy, Setrakus Ra.
The Cepans, the mentors of the nine Garde, die off one by one, leaving only the kids to fight off the destruction of the planet. Alone. Romantic entanglements complicate matters. Because even aliens with superpowers have normal teenage hormones.
All this is familiar. What makes these books great is how these familiar tropes get used and altered and woven together.
The Fall of Five is the fourth book in a series, so if you haven’t read the others and don’t want any spoilers, stop reading now. You’ve been warned. There are no spoilers for The Fall of Five.
How to win me over? Give me a book where the women and girls kick ass and take names and there is never any suggestion that this is strange. It’s not like, “wow, it’s amazing that Six is such a badass cuz she’s a giirrrrllll.” Everyone just knows that she is the best at hand-to-hand combat and carries on with life. Okay, maybe except for Nine, he is pretty fierce too, but it doesn’t become about boy vs girl, its just these two are the best at punching things. Even the human girl, Sarah, who is initially just Four’s love interest, ends up coming back and holding her own against a whole horde of alien bad guys. She learns to fight and shoot guns because she refuses to be helpless. Right on, girl.
Marina and Ella (Seven and Ten respectively) are slightly less about the punching things, but no less fierce in battle. I love the message that girls can be physically kick ass, but that they don’t HAVE to be physically intimidating in order to BE kick ass. One of the wonderful things about a race of characters that have telekinetic abilities is that it evens out the battle field. Much like the magic in Harry Potter when you take physical strength out of the equation it means that men and women can fight on equal ground. Marina and Ella have less physical strength than Six and Nine, but can still bash bad guy’s faces in by levitating a rock at them. In fact it is Ella, the youngest and smallest of the group, that turns the tide of a losing battle at the end of The Rise of Nine when all seems lost.
There is no discussion of girls and boys among the Garde, outside of feelings that crop up. They all have different Legacies. Six can control the weather and turn invisible. Marina can breath underwater, see in the dark and heal people. Four can become a human fireball. Nine can walk on the ceiling. Eight can teleport and take on different shapes. Five can take on the characteristics of whatever material he’s holding (steel, rubber). Ella can talk telepathically. All of them can move shit with their minds. They have to work together as a team to win this war. It’s not a new storytelling device that individually they are powerful but together they are SUPER POWERFUL. But, like many repeated tropes, it is repeated because it is a message we need to hear over and over again. Together we are stronger than we are alone.
I also love the way relationships develop over time. Sarah and Four are the OTP (one true pairing for you non-super nerds out there) and while I roll my eyes at the idea that true love can exist at age 15, it is nice to see a relationship in a YA book where both partners are on an equal emotional footing. Both want to protect the other, not because either thinks the other is weak, just because they care about each other. Four says things like, “Not like Sarah needs my permission to do anything,” cuz he respects her as a human. I know– crazy concept right?
When Four met Six and sparks started flying I was really worried about an annoying triangle, especially since Sam, Four’s human best friend – who is a really great character that I want to be BFF’s with – also has a crush on Six. So that would make it a… rectangle? Two triangles intersecting? Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised when Six declared to a confused Four immediately after kissing them both, “You like me and Sarah. I like you and Sam. Deal with it.” Yeah girl!
As the books go on, things sort themselves out. Four can be attracted to Six without it changing his feelings for Sarah. Sarah decides not to be petty or jealous of Six. Sam finally works up the nerve to go for it with Six. Marina and Eight clearly have something going on and they are too adorable for words. I can’t even begin to explain how refreshing it is to see teenagers acting like rational humans instead of hormone driven idiots. My only complaint is that out of ten Garde and ten Cepan at least one should be queer. If Lorien is as utopian and advanced as they keep saying it is, it should not be a big deal to be LGBTQ. But, alas, all evidence points to them all being hetero. I’m still holding out hope for Six and Marina to hook up. But whatever.
In The Fall of Five we learn a lot more about Lorien, which we discover along with the characters. There is more to Ella than meets the eye, and also something weird going on with Setrakus Ra’s obsession with her. I have my suspicions (below to avoid spoilers), but these books keep me on my toes, so I could very well be wrong. This book is also the first time we start to meet characters we really don’t know if we can trust. Sam’s dad has been a prisoner of the bad guys for years, could he be brainwashed? We finally meet Five and he is the first of the Garde that as a reader I don’t really like. Sure Nine can be an ass hole, but basically a good, trustworthy guy. But Five? He’s kind of a dick. Is it because he’s socially inept? Or are there darker things at work? It was interesting to introduce people into the inner circle, the people our characters are supposed to be able to trust that we aren’t sure about.
Oh, and have I mentioned Bernie Kosar– the alien pet who can CHANGE HIS SHAPE?? I’m really worried about a Hedwig situation here, because if BK dies I will cry SO HARD.
In summation, exciting fight sequences + epic good v. evil battle + awesomely portrayed gender roles + a plot that keeps me going, ‘NO SERIOUSLY WHAT HAPPENS NEXT I NEED TO KNOW RIGHT NOW AAHHHHHHHHH’ =
4 out of 5 legacies.
(down there are my predictions that are spoilery. So you’ve been warned.)
1. Four is the Garde who will take on the powers of Pittacus Lore and defeat the evil bad guy. Like Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter and Frodo Baggins. This device is not new to fiction. Knowing it doesn’t make me love it any less.
2. This is my take on the whole Setrakus Ra obsessed with Ella thing. He calls her his heir, and we learn that her Great Grandfather was involved in an old secret war and then after that the Elders went from 10 to 9. So, my theory is that her Great Grandfather turned on the Elders and became Setrakus Ra, the leader and founder of the Mogadorians (aka bad guys). So Ella technically is his heir, literally. It would also explain why Ra has his funky powers, because he was originally Loric also. It would also explain why the Mog’s hate the Loric so much. It’s a blood feud.
3. I’m realllllyyyy worried that either Sam or Sarah is going to die. 😦