Monday, January 13, 2014
Review: Alienated by Melissa Landers
Review: Alienated by Melissa Landers
Release date: Feburary 4th, 2014
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Series: #1 in the Alienated trilogy
Source: ARC borrowed from Lili
Rating: Cute, fluffy, funny sci-fi that made me giggle and swoon and carried some surprisingly deep messages. Not perfect, but who cares? I'm giggling and swooning.
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 was not expecting this book to be as funny as it was. TO say I thoroughly enjoyed myself is an understatement, even though this book isn't as light as I thought it was. There was actually one moment that made me slam the book down and wail, "NOOOOOOO!" to poor Lili, who knew exactly which moment I'd reached. But even before that, a super cute romance and funny narration are balanced by the dark and weighty themes of xenophobia and prejudice.
Cara Sweeney is an Earth girl (a charming, loveable, funny one, at that). She's agreed to host the world's every foreign--foreign-- exchange student from the planet L'eihr. Obviously he is tall and handsome, because this is a book, but isn't it so much more fun when aliens are tall and handsome? I think so. Anyway, I really adored the Vulcan-esque, emotionally constipated aliens Landers created, and their complex society with a good deal of excellent world-building in it. Aelyx, our hot alien boy, is arrogant, unfeeling, and entirely baffled by these colorful Earthlings with their emotions and terrible food. Watching Cara and Aelyx was hilarious. Watching Aelyx learn to feel and love was adorable. He was totally discombobulated by everything about Cara.
I liked how aliens the aliens felt. They weren't just humans with funky names; their culture, their references, and their thought processes were entirely different. Sometimes Cara and Aelyx could not understand the other's position at all, which didn't bode well for the dark future ahead, but really drove home how difficult it is, sometimes, to overcome cultural boundaries.
But back to the fun stuff. The kissing scenes? The hilariously awkward crush scenes? Landers pulls those off GORGEOUSLY. I miiiiight have gone back and reread those kiss scenes. You know, for science. I spaceship it!
Side note: The cover. It's not my favorite cover by any means, but I was okay with it until I got to the point where the L'eirs are described as having... russet skin. *checks out the white dude on the cover* Yeah, no. That's some whitewashing right there.
It's not all fun and flirting and giggles, though. Most of Earth is scared pantless of the L'eihrs, who are far more technologically advanced and were the ones who found us, rather than vice versa. They react in a very Westboro Baptist Church way, will lots of hatred and picketing and prejudice. You know. Like humans. It was so well done, but it made me absolutely sick to read about--as it should. Cara's boyfriend and her best friend start to turn against her, along with the entire town and half the world. Cara writes about her experiences on (an absolutely hilarious) blog (full of funny alien puns!), but things start to get terrifyingly hostile.
And then the crap hits the fan, and SO DOES MY HEART. I wasn't thrilled with the way Cara's friendship with Tori played out, and normally I wouldn't like the choice Cara makes at the end, but for some reason it all worked for me. Probably because ship. And cute. And DRAMA. Things get super intense at the end. I'm very excited to read the sequel and get to learn more about L'eihr, about Aelyx, and about Cara.