*Caution! Minor spoilers ahead!*
The confusingly-titled I AM NUMBER FOUR: THE LOST FILES: THE LEGACIES is actually a collection of three novellas previously released in ebook format: SIX'S LEGACY (July 2011), NINE'S LEGACY (February 2012), and THE FALLEN LEGACIES (July 2012). A fourth novella, THE SEARCH FOR SAM, is scheduled for a December 2012 release. The materials in THE LOST FILES: THE LEGACIES were published after Book #2 (THE POWER OF SIX) but before Book #3 (THE RISE OF NINE) in the Lorien Legacies series - just to give you an idea of the story's timeline.
That said, you can either read THE LOST FILES: THE LEGACIES in order of its publication, or after finishing Book #3 - there's nothing in the former that will impact the reader's understanding of the latter. In fact, I saved THE LOST FILES: THE LEGACIES for last, and ultimately prefer it this way. Some of the stories in THE LOST FILES: THE LEGACIES altered my perceptions of certain characters - characters that weren't fully fleshed out until Book #3.
Narrated by Number Six, "Six's Legacy" paints a more detailed picture of Six's history than we were given in previous books - but not by much. We learn a little bit more about her childhood, as well as her relationship with her Cêpan, Katarina, and their capture and imprisonment in a Mogadorian mountain cave in West Virginia. Whereas I would've liked to be a party to Katarina's stories of life on Lorien, the author doesn't revisit these quieter scenes, instead focusing on conflicts and near-misses. Coming in at a mere 91 pages, I can't say that I walked away with a greater understanding of Six as a person.
As with "Six's Legacy," Nine serves as the narrator of his own novella, "Nine's Legacy." When I mentioned that this anthology is best read last because it may change how you view certain (previously unsympathetic) characters, I was referring primarily to Nine. Though he appears cocky, reckless, and self-absorbed in THE POWER OF SIX and THE RISE OF NINE, Nine starts off as a rather likable guy - teenage male bravado aside. It's only after a friend's betrayal leads to his capture and the murder of his Cêpan that Nine develops a thick shell of indifference and an unquenchable, unyielding desire for revenge.
"The Fallen Legacies" is perhaps the most interesting of the three. Unlike the other novellas, this story isn't told by a member of the Garde (namely, Numbers One, Two, and/or Three - the "fallen legacies" alluded to in the title), but by a young Mogadorian. As the son of a high-ranking Mogadorian General, Adamus "Adam" Sutekh is expected to follow in his father's footsteps: become an obedient, unquestioning soldier for the cause and, one day, a Mog ruler on Earth. Hiding in plain sight in a Mogadorian enclave on Earth (read: an exclusive gated community outside of Washington, DC), he's a witness to the deaths of One, Two, and Three, with varying degrees of involvement. In many ways, these events are milestones in Adam's life, markers on his road to adulthood.
Just eight years old during the "First Great Expansion" (i.e., the genocide of the Loric people), Adam is slightly older than the members of the Garde - children who he is at times expected to kill in cold blood. Indoctrinated by his people from birth, Adam is a fervent believer in the Mogadorian "cause" - that is, until an illicit experiment (sanctioned by his own father) gives him access to One's memories. In her mind Adam wanders for three years, with One acting as his sometimes-escort. Adam awakes only to find that One has taken up residence in his own noggin; she quickly becomes the proverbial angel on his shoulder. With her encouragement, Adam begins to question all he's been taught about Mogadorian supremacy and progress.
"The Fallen Legacies" is less about the murdered Legacies than one Mogadorian's struggle between right and wrong, between betraying one's conscience - or committing treason against one's family and people.
While it's not quite up to par with I AM NUMBER FOUR, THE LOST FILES: THE LEGACIES is still an improvement over books one and two in the series - which I found rather formulaic, sometimes boring, and overall a disappointment, given how much potential I saw in I AM NUMBER FOUR. Fun summer reads, but not much more.
Perhaps I'm just too old for this series, given that the recommended age is 14 and up. I'm 34 and counting - but it's worth noting that I adore other "young adult" series, such as THE HUNGER GAMES (marketed 12 and up!). Maybe mediocre writing is just that?
For example, a chief complaint is that, through three books and as many novellas, I still don't have a grasp of each Legacy as a unique and individualized character; their voices vary in only the most superficial of ways. Additionally, the mix of supernatural magic and speculative science (fiction) - which has become increasingly outlandish, with not the thinnest thread of explanations proffered - is seriously beginning to strain my credulity.
3.5 out of 5 stars - a fun adventure, but nothing groundbreaking.
As an aside, the environmentalist in me takes issue with the "preview" chapters included in THE LOST FILES: THE LEGACIES - including twelve pages of I AM NUMBER FOUR and twenty pages from THE POWER OF SIX. Since these books were published prior to THE LOST FILES: THE LEGACIES - and it's not likely that a reader will jump into the series starting with the novellas and not, say, a novel, if not the first novel, period - this is nothing but a pointless waste of paper and ink. Seriously, guys, preview upcoming books, not those already published! How many copies of the first chapter of THE POWER OF SIX do I need?