by Melissa Landers
Read: August 23 - 25, 2013
Published: February 4, 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Source: Around the World Arc Tours
Category: PNR, aliens, YA
Series: Alienated #1
Find: Goodreads | Amazon
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 perhaps I’ve grown out of my perpetual love of the Paranormal Romance genre. Or possibly it’s the aliens. But as much as I though this book was well done, filled with delicious swoon and an enjoyable story, I just couldn’t get into it as much as I hoped. Although this PNR story approaches aliens in an interesting way, Alienated never fully grabbed me.
Cara is hardworking and goal oriented. She has big plans for college and her future, including a career in journalism. As the top student in her school, she has been preselected to participate in an exchange program. Not just with someone on the other side of the country, or the world. But with someone from another galaxy entirely.
Cara’s alien exchange student Aelyx thinks he’s much better than the messy, less intelligent race that he’s being forced to live with, but he’s forced to reconsider his views when he meets Cara.
You see aliens – who look remarkably like humans on earth - made contact two years ago and since that time, the two planets have been in peaceful negotiations. As there are understandably, many people hostile to the idea, one of the first steps to interplanetary relations will be this high school exchange program. One student will stay with Cara and study for a semester, and then she’ll go to the planet of L’eihr for a semester the following year (aka book 2). Cara is obviously reluctant, but among other reasons, she is hopeful that it will be a good thing for her future career.
I thought the author did a nice job with her world building. She’d thought through the differences between the L’eihr and humans, as well as what would be the public’s reactions to an alien race inhabiting earth. The L’eihr’s are actually far more advanced than the humans, they have better medicine, the ability to speak to each other in their minds and are much less…chaotic than earth dwellers. But does that make them truly superior? I liked the discussion in this story about what it means to be human, the bad and ugly parts but also the beautiful ones.
I really enjoyed watching Aelyx experience earth for the first time, and seeing his prejudices diminish as he got to know Cara. I could also imagine what she went through, losing friends and acquaintances because of her affiliation with him. Many people are understandably worried about a different race of people inhabiting earth. Why are the L’eihr here? And what could they possibly want from the less advanced earth dwellers? But I was in awe of Cara's strength and determination not to let peer pressure change her views. However, I found Cara to be way too forgiving of her best friend's prejudiced behavior in the end. She must be a bigger person than I am.
Cara and Aelyx’s relationship is paced well, and I like that it took time for them to develop a connection. A lot of that is due to trust, but also Aelyx is not very familiar with the ways that humans show affection, and seeing him discover that is one of the most fun parts of this story. Also the most swoon inducing. I also really like the tension caused by Aelyx's prejudice and watching him work through that.
As you can see, most of my comments on this book are positive, and I think a lot of people will enjoy this story. However, I just couldn't escape the overwhelming sense that this is going down the standard three book PNR plot arc, and I feel exhausted just thinking about it. There is even a character introduced in the last 2 chapters that seems like they could be a second love interest. However, according to my love triangle disliking friend Danielle, the author has stated that book 2 will NOT have a triangle. Thank goodness for small miracles!
Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Low - Medium, depending on your perspective. The end basically sets up book 2, so you know where the characters and plot are headed.