With I Am Number Four
(which I was foolish enough to buy*) what you see is what you get. By which I mean that it is one of those YA novels aimed at a specific target demographic (YA) to reap the monetary rewards.
Many of my Goodreads friends have commented that authors do this in other novels (particularly YA novels) - writing cliched novels with the aim of drawing dollars from readers. To an extent I think most authors write for the dollar. They have to create a readership and keep making money and so what better way than to target what readers seem to want? Create a cool premise, add a mix of typical YA characters and mix in explosions, action and magic/science/romance and there's your bestseller.
That said, I think there is a difference between resorting to what readers might want on occasion and crafting an entire novel around what you think will sell. The first is what a writer who understands their readers tries to do. The second is a form of emotional cheating designed to appear as author sympathy but really the author cares little for the book and readers and more about the money their ideas produce.
That is what I feel I Am Number Four
does, create an interesting idea that is poorly fleshed out and draws on cliché in order to produce a work of fiction that artificially feels...well familiar to the reader. It seems a quirk of the human condition that we rally to what we understand or what feels familiar and attempt to escape from the unfamiliar, from the 'other'. It seems that as a result most readers selectively pick novels which feature themes, ideas and characters which are recognisable by their type. I understand fantasy and appreciate it therefore I read plenty of fantasy for instance. Yet one should never allow oneself to get stuck in a rut of reading the same type of work over and over again, which is what this is and why I'd recommend other works over this.
I know many people are disappointed by the real author behind the story but I can read a novel (if it's interesting) without associating it with the author's misdeeds. Yet this novel wastes a good premise with its heavily cliched writing and poor dialogue. The only reason I probably cannot bring myself to give it one star despite the indicators is that I actually enjoyed the book. I found it an average book certainly yet there are many books I've found to be even worse - [b:The Enemy|6605625|The Enemy (The Enemy, #1)|Charlie Higson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1340819657s/6605625.jpg|6799539] for instance. Still, hardly a book I'd recommend for readers. I'd recommend John Wyndham or Ray Bradbury if you want a sci-fi fix.
*One of several foolish decisions involving books