Author: Melissa Landers
Series: Alienated, book #1
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Source: received from publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.
Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.
Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.
But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.
Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.
I think what I liked best about Alienated was that although it tackles some larger issues, it doesn't deign to take itself too seriously. It was when this novel was funny that I enjoyed it best, and there are plenty of funny, awkward moments to be had. The book does take a turn toward the serious, especially as the two alien races take a more divisive stance toward one another, but I'll get to that.
I've read quite a few novels recently that dealt with space travel and aliens and they were all such somber tales, so I was glad to discover how quirky and cute this story was. The interactions between Cara and Aelyx made this book what it was, even when they were barely cordial to each other in the beginning. I just felt that their encounters were natural, whereas a lot of the other scenarios in the book -- especially where the ex-boyfriend, ex-best friend, and that douchey leader of the junior HALOs were concerned -- felt forced, and a lot of those confrontations just seemed juvenile and immature, most especially the dialogue.
But I found myself delighted whenever Cara and Aelyx had page-time together. Obviously, newly single Cara can't help but fall for the hot new alien living under her roof, but the pacing of the relationship was perfect. The romance actually had stages and worked up to the intense attraction, rather than throwing it in your face from the moment they first meet. I do think that maybe the professing of love could have waited a bit, but I am old and sometimes forget what it was like to be sixteen and have all of those feelings that I just can't keep inside. =)
Have you ever had a foreign exchange student living with you? My older sister signed up for a French exchange student when she was in high school and I was probably eight, and even at that age, I could tell how awkward it was for everyone involved, at least in the beginning, especially with somewhat of a language barrier on both accounts. So, I felt like the way Aelyx is received into Cara's home and how everyone treats him at first was portrayed rather accurately. The only other people who interacted with Cara and Aelyx that seemed genuine were Cara's parents, which I was happy to see. I've said it before but I'll say it again: good, involved parents are an asset to young adult novels.
I have to admit, the cover is the first thing that drew me to request this book. Not only is it pretty, but it's representative of what's inside the book, as well: two very different worlds, two different alien races coming together and still not together. The L'eihr have initiated contact, and after providing Earth with some serious medical advancements, an understanding has been reached to try to learn more about each other's culture. Each group has motivations for the alliance, and each race stands to benefit immensely from it.
But there will always be dissenters, those who don't like change. This is where things get serious. It starts out harmless enough, as most situations like this do, but quickly escalates as allegations and threats are made...against the L'eihr. It's human nature for us to question change, but I'll never understand how some people can be so closed-minded, so distrustful. Discrimination will always exist, no matter what aspect or trait is being discriminated against, which is unfortunate. That being said, this novel takes the subject to a dangerous level. It doesn't matter that there's a strong possibility that we could have evolved from the L'eihr...to some people, preconceived notions will always hold true.
Alienated is charming and romantic, quirky and fun, with undertones of discrimination and betrayal to even things out. I love how Landers tackled the subject of friendship in the face of diversity with humor and sass, and I'll definitely be picking up the next installment to see how the duo fare when the shoe is on the other foot.
About the author:
Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her husband and three kids. She lives just outside Cincinnati and writes adult contemporary romance as Macy Beckett.
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