By Melissa Landers
Published on February 4th 2014
Published by Disney Hyperion
Published 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-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.
Alienated was a fun read told in the dueling perspectives of Cara and Aelyx. While at first, Cara isn't too excited about playing host to an alien exchange student, she warms to the idea; meanwhile, Aelyx is excited to go to Earth but not to stay with Cara. It's clear from the outset that he's got some ulterior motives, and it takes most of the book for the truth to come out, and when it does, there's bound to be drama.
This was a fairly quick read for me. Alienated isn't non-stop action; for much of the book, it's just interpersonal drama as Aelyx adjusts to life on Earth and as Cara's friends and community start to turn against her for welcoming an alien into their lives. I thought the anti-L'eihr sentiment was actually really well done, especially the way it slowly escalated, and, let's face it, it would probably be what would happen in the real world if aliens made contact and wanted to try living among us. It was also interesting to see things from Aelyx's perspective on how he viewed people from Earth, and knowing his thoughts and biases off the bat really helped with his character development as the story went on.
I liked the romance between Cara and Aelyx. It takes its time, and the development makes sense, especially as Cara is slowly abandoned by most of the other people in her life because she refuses to stop taking part in the exchange program. I did feel like I wanted to know more about L'eihr and their life and customs; outside of some information given by Aelyx as he's telling Cara about his world, it really takes until the end of the book to get a better glimpse at their lives. Fortunately, things are set up for a sequel where we will hopefully learn more about the L'eihrs. I'm curious to see how the next book goes, given how things are left off in this one, so there is a lot to look forward to. With much of the character establishment out of the way already, perhaps the next book will be a little more action and a little less talk.