Series: Alienated #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on February 4th, 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, YA Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Sexual Content: Implied sexual situations
Reviewed by: Megan
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.
This YA romance is given surprising depth with a background of xenophobia in a world not far removed from ours. At the center of Melissa Landers’ ALIENATED is the sweet and honest love story of Cara Sweeney and Aelyx of the L’eihr, an alien race that offers humanity a cancer cure upon making first contact. The parallels to present-day fears of ‘aliens’ are familiar without being heavy-handed or preachy, and we’re gifted with a protagonist who does not go easily into the role of L’eihr champion, but shows the reader exactly how and why she falls in love with one.
Both Cara and Aelyx have distinct points of view, so switching between them in close 3rd Person POV is never confusing. Though Aelyx is as alien to the reader as he is to Cara, he’s still very clearly a teenage boy, perplexed by Cara’s emotions just like any human male. In the sections seen through Aelyx’s eyes, Landers does a great job of showing the appeal of the L’eihr’s Spartan existence, as well as their difficulty with the excess of stimulus on Earth. There’s a delicate wit in the writing with great turns of phrase and a wry sense of humor that punctuates later scenes of serious conflict.
Though ALIENATED is pitched as a romance between a human girl and an alien boy, there is a lot more going on under the surface, which is what really makes the story come to life. Aelyx becomes torn between a pact he made with his fellow exchange students for the good of L’eihr kind, and his growing feelings for Cara, while she becomes the target of a small town’s fears and insecurities which grow from minor protests to physical attacks. Even Cara’s closest friends fall victim to the mob mentality, but Landers is careful to paint that slippery slope, so that while the reader shares Cara’s disgust for their behavior, it’s easy to see how it comes about. The least likeable character in this story is understandable, elevating the stakes from black and white to those scary shades of grey.
On the romance front, I adored the scenes where Cara and Aelyx each spend time figuring out how to cheer the other up, which include Aelyx’s experience with Google auto-fill. My only wish would be to see more human supporters of the L’eihr students, rather than the Sweeney family shouldering the burden for the entire world. The alien race gifted humanity with a cure for cancer, after all, so even though the outcome of anger and persecution in this novel is unfortunately believable, it would be nice to know that a few other families express gratitude, even if they’re waiting for the bill to come due.Series Titles: