|Alienated by Melissa Landers|
February 4, 2014
Genre: Mature Young Adult
Source: eARC from publisher for Honest review
Interplanetary relations have never been more exciting! The first in a funny, romantic YA sci-fi series.My Review:
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.
Reading this was a real treat. I'll admit, the gorgeous cover pulled me in, but the story and the characters kept me going. Even in a Sci-Fi setting, this story was relatable, filled with humor and seriousness, banter and compassion, romance and reason, suspense and intrigue. It has a little bit of everything, and that everything completely worked for me.
Great characters: Cara is a wonderful heroine. Her way of dealing with things and standing up for what she believes in is commendable. She's a firecracker, just like her hair color. She doesn't let people walk all over her. She's head of the debate team for a reason. She's loyal. She's compassionate. She's analytical, though sometimes a little too trusting, but that's also what is great about her. She wants to see the good in "people." Aelyx starts as arrogant, self-important, and overly critical. I loved watching his gradual transformation and the effect humans, Cara in particular, had on him. The feelings he wrestled with were very genuine and I could understand the fear behind his conflict. And I loved that we get dual POVs in third-person. This really worked for this story, giving us both perspectives even without being in first-person. Additionally, Cara's parents were the best. I love their "amorous" moments and the touchy-feely standard they set in their home. It set the stage for a compassionate and loving household. This was a great addition to a YA book.
Storyline: The story seemed to gradually build in its intensity. I found this to be a really great strategy, drawing me into the story with easygoing moments, and then a steady build-up of conflict. By the end I couldn't put the book down. It was quite an interesting concept - alien exchange program - and I loved how the author introduced it. The optimism of this being an easy program was quickly trumped by the reality that this would freak people out. And as the author showed, people opposed to this would always be more vocal and persistent than those for it, reflecting many similar exchanges in our society. The government seemed a little less involved initially than I think they would have been realistically, but eventually that was rectified. But overall, I loved this story, where the plot took us, how things developed, and ultimately how things ended and set themselves up for the next book. Really well done.
Romance: Loved the gradual build-up of the relationship between Cara and Aelyx. No insta-love. There was a mutual build up of comradery, to friendship, to more. I loved their exchanges and the author's use of dialogue and scenes where they actually interact together as opposed to just talking "about" stuff. This was a great showing, not just telling, book. We get to see the real connection between Cara and Aelyx, not just some physical lust-fest, but how they connect on an emotional and "human" level. There are sweet moments, funny moments, tender moments, and swoony moments.
Bottomline: This was a wonderful that to a new YA Sci-Fi series, with appealing and strong characters, an intriguing plot, and suspenseful situations sure to keep a reader engaged. Definitely looking forward to the next book!
Bonus: If you read the author's acknowledgements, you'll see the names of her children, which are also names of a few characters in the book. I thought that was super cool and sweet.