Author: Melissa Landers
Release Date: February 4, 2014
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, school suddenly isn't safe anymore. 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.
Alienated is entertaining, fun, and a quick read. As exciting as this book is, I also found it to be a curious look at fear hatred, love, and the other. Aliens are coming to Earth, to learn and to live, and not everyone is pleased at the news, but some learn to accept them and will have to stand up for them when others try to stop them.
Cara is intelligent, opinionated, and passionate, and she's a bit unsure about the exchange program. She sees the pros and cons, how it means she could essentially pick any college she wanted to attend, but she's not sure about having a stranger in her house, an alien from another planet with no emotions. But Cara's one of the most open-minded characters. After a rocky start she genuinely wants to know more about the L'eihrs and their planet, their customs. She doesn't understand why the hatred that's slowly grown in parts of the human population exist.
Aelyx is extremely intelligent and extremely distant. He's reserved, rather emotionless, but he's an alien. His world is not Earth, it's muted in terms of colour and emotion. He doesn't really want to be on Earth, neither do any of his friends, his fellow L'eihr exchange students, and so they have a plan to leave as quickly as possible. But when he sees Cara's circle of friends dwindle to nothing he's there to support her, even if it feels strange to him. And he's been keeping some secrets from her that could destroy their growing relationship.
This book seems to have two sides, the exchange student Cara and Aelyx side and the fear of the other side. There's a slowly growing group in this book that are vehemently against the L'eihr and anything to do with them. They fear them, hate them, because they are different, because they assume the L'eihr are going to take over Earth and make it their own. This group assumes the worst and responds the same way, with hatred, abuse, bullying, and violence. Those moments left a bitter taste in my mouth.
I found this to be a fun, quick, entertaining read, science fiction with some real world contemporary issues. At times it reminded me of Adaptation by Malinda Lo. As fun as it was there's a darker side, a dangerous side, that can't be overlooked. It adds weight to the book, makes it so it's not just a simple exchange student romance kind of story. I hope the second book doesn't have what I don't like that appears in most second books, because I really like this first book.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Disney Book Group through NetGalley.)