Published February 4th 2014 by Disney Hyperion
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-eer 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 locked, 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.
"What's this?" He brought the brown square to his nose. "It smells musty.""It's chocolate. You'll love it." "That's what you said about Skittles. I vomited a rainbow afterward."
- Melissa Landers, Alienated
Thank you Netgalley and Disney Hyperion for providing me with a copy of this book!
If it wasn't for the aliens, Alienated could have easily been a perfect contemporary novel. It's still light and sweet, but because of the alien aspect it makes it stand out. What it brought to my eye was a novel with great potential.
What the author has done to the typical alien genre is new and refreshing. She made everything very believable, like it just could happen right now. It has to be one of the most original ideas I've seen yet. An exchange program is very easy to write about. It has always been there as an idea, and most authors are looking for something way more spectacular than that. They forget about the simple things while others can create something very good out of it. Melissa Landers is one of those to have proven that it doesn't always have to be. I really appreciate the believability of Alienated. It really helped me to get into the world. Now that I've come to discuss the world, and more specifically the L'eihr culture, I can honestly say that I may be in love. I love their culture. It creates a difference between this book and others I've read because Landers wants to show you the similarities between them and us, when they're actually still foreign and have their own world. Their philosophy and gods are intriguing. I got a clear view on their world and habits without too many details.
I can't picture this book only being told from Cara's of Aelyx' point of view. The fact that we get to see from both points of view did not only make me like Aelyx and understand him more, I understand both of their actions, even when one of the two didn't. A crucial thing when it comes to points of view, is the clear difference between them. I can rest in peace when I say this was just well done. The point of view itself brought depth to the story, in the way of Aelyx' acclimatisation and the plans of the L'eihrs. It was nice to see something from that in the beginning and watching it play out throughout the book.
The characters themselves are lovely. Cara seemed to be that perfect little girl, which took me by surprise to find out that she's just a normal teenager. She blogs and has a hard time every now and then. Aelyx is stubborn and has many prejudices about Earth and its population. He manages to beat Cara in every game and doesn't like chocolate. If it wasn't for the chocolate, I think he'd be on my list of fictional boyfriends. Despite my hate towards the HALO crew such as Eric and Tori, I managed to like them, maybe even understand their actions. It's stupid to deny it: I'd be pretty scared too if my best friend or boyfriend gets to hang out with a sexy alien. Cara's parents are the icing on the cake. They're actually involved with Cara's life and have something to do with the story. They, like every other character, are believable and there when needed. Besides my love for the characters, I also got to appreciate the realistic development of Aelyx and Cara's relationship. They didn't immediately have an attraction or fell in love at first sight. It's normal they didn't. It's that kind of romance which totally fits in with the other contemporary romances. It's cute and makes you smile.
The resemblance between Alienated and a contemporary novel helped to lift the rather heavy topics, yet only a bit. The politics, HALO and protests are not these kind of things you'd want to read about. One time they were just there and there isn't really anything to do about them. This will happen if we would get invaded one day. In the end I was sick of everything us humans were doing. I want everyone to live happily ever after, not react the same way to aliens as we did in the sixties to the black population. On the other hand, it totally makes sense, but just because it makes sense doesn't mean I like to read about these kind of things. Also the predictability of the plot and the slower pacing made it easy at times to put it down and go and do something else.
I was expecting a light and funny story. I was glad to have gotten that, with a surprising dark touch to it. The ending left me wanting more. With characters of whom I'd love to be inside their heard again, I will definitely be picking up the sequel.