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.Hardcover, 352 pagesPublished February 4th 2014 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Three stars: A intergalactic romance with some serious undertones.
Cara is stunned when she is called into the principal's office and offered the chance of a lifetime. She is up for valedictorian, and due to her impressive grades and debate experience, Cara has been selected for the new intergalactic exchange program. Cara will be hosting a student from L’eihr, an alien planet that made contact with Earth two years ago. If all goes well, Cara will then be going to stay on L'eihr. At first, Cara sees only the potential for fame and wealth, but once Aelyx arrives, it becomes apparent that not all the citizens are on board with alien interaction. Will Cara lose her friends, status and everything she has worked for?
What I Liked:
- There aren't many YA titles featuring aliens, so I was eager to jump on board and read this new series. I appreciated that this book was entertaining while exposing some deeper, more serious issues such as prejudice, hate groups, mistrust and the difficulties that would ensue when forming a relationship with an alien species. This is more than a cute, intergalactic romance as it takes on many challenging issues. Not everyone would be ready to welcome the visitors with open arms.
- I thought the author did a good job with the world building. It was interesting getting to know more about the people of L'eihr and learning about their customs and views on life. The L'eihrs are a highly advanced species that did away with traditional conception and child birth, instead, life is cloned and only the best and brightest are allowed to contribute their genes for reproduction. I liked learning more about life on the alien planet and the people of L'eihr.
- The book is told with alternating view points between Cara and Aelyx. Aelyx is extremely intelligent, but he lacks emotion. Think Data or Spock from Star Trek. I found a lot of his dialogue and interpretation on humans too be funny. Aelyx is also cocky and he has some negative views of humanity, and he isn't on board with the exchange so take him with a grain of salt. However as time goes on, Aelyx's interaction with Cara changes him, and he begins to feel and show emotion. He definitely comes a long way in a short time. Cara is easy to like, she is intelligent, energetic, ambitious, driven and a good friend. She shows tremendous fortitude once all of her friends turn their backs on her because of her association with Aelyx. She not only loses her friends but her social status as well. Yet she spends very little time feeling sorry for herself, and not once does she threaten to quit the program. I don't think that most teens would have put up with prejudice and hate that was dished her way. I thought that both the main characters were engaging and entertaining, and I liked getting to know each of them.
- The story explored the paranoia, hate, mistrust and prejudices that many of the citizens on Earth felt toward the L'eihrs. Even though the L'eihrs came in peace and even provided a miracle cure for cancer, not everyone is on board with the idea of collaborating with the aliens. Hate groups form, spewing anti-L'eihrian sentiment and soon riots and even violence ensue. These are very real and troubling issues that would definitely be in play if an alien encounter did happen. Humans have seen too many alien brain melting movies so it is to be expected that we would be wary of newcomers. I thought the author did an excellent job of exploring and exposing the difference of opinions and public sentiment when it comes to aliens. What side of the fence would you be on? Welcome them with open arms, or view them with hostility and mistrust?
- Alienated has a nice, slow going romance that takes its time to build. There aren't any ridiculous love triangles or insta love scenarios. The romance is born after a careful friendship and trust are established. There are definitely some steamy kissing scenes as intergalactic mating rituals are explored. Fear not, this doesn't extend beyond a couple of heavy make out scenes, there are no sex scenes so this remains age appropriate.
- Finally, I appreciated that everything wraps up nicely, while new story lines are laid down for the next book. No jarring cliffhangers, which was a relief.
And The Not So Much:
- One major part that I felt was lacking and that caused the book to lack a bit of believability was there was practically no mention of the government. There is really no discussion on how the aliens made initial contact two years ago, and how the government received them. This is a crucial part to the story, and I thought it should have been included.
- As the hate and violence escalated almost immediately, I had a hard time swallowing that the school would continue to allow Aelyx to attend school, especially after one of the students was harmed. You would think that there would have been more intervention from the government to ensure the safety, but that doesn't happen until it is too late. In fact, it seemed that not many people were in support of the L'eihrs so it was hard to believe that they would allow the exchange to go on in the first place.
- The romance is predictable, it was apparent from the get go that a romantic development was in the works between Cara and Aelyx, but that is okay as the romance at least develops at a nice, slow pace.
- I thought the whole reason for the L'eihrs to make contact with the Earth was a bit glossed over and not detailed thoroughly. I wanted to know more about the Elders and their condition, and why did they not try breeding naturally first? How did they know humans and L'eihrs could interbreed? Did they run tests? I also wished that it was more apparent on how the L'eihrs felt toward humanity? Were they as prejudice and negative as humans?
- There is a story line that involves hate notes left by an anonymous person. This was built up and I was expecting a sinister person to step forward and cause some drama, when the supposed person is exposed it was a weak pay out and it was hurried. I was expecting much more regarding this plot line.
- I struggled a bit with the whole idea that the Elders would leave the fate of the alliance in the hands of teenagers, especially when it comes to the teenagers on Earth. Teens are often ruled by hormones and emotion and they may not be the best candidates for forming a new alliance with an alien species.
Alienated was an entertaining and fun read that explored the possibilities of forming new relationships with alien species. This book takes on some serious issues as it exposes the animosity and prejudices that many humans harbor when it comes to accepting someone new and different. At the heart of the book is a terrific, slow building romance that is perfect for teens. I have no doubt that this book will have a high appeal rate with younger readers, but older readers, like myself, may find that it lacks depth. Still if you are in the mood for a good book with aliens, this is a solid pick.
"But Eric was probably most attracted to your waist-to hop ratio." For a split second, Aelyx resembled a human boy as he leaned back and peered at her caboose. "Hips of that width are likely to pass live offspring without complications."
"I think she left her soul at home. Maybe it didn't match her shoes."
"Why is it always the crazies who make their voices heard while everyone else shuts up and does nothing?"
"Think Satan wants to borrow my snowblower?" When nobody laughed, he added, "Get it? Hell's frozen over."
"How can we understand what we've never experienced and adapt without making mistakes?"
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.