Mix one all-American girl plus one handsome alien in the first Intergalactic student exchange program, plus a pinch of sabotage and you get Alienated by Melissa Landers.
From the book flap:
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.
The L’eihr came to Earth just 2 years ago. They look just like humans, with minor differences. Despite the fact they came bearing primo gifts like THE CURE TO CANCER, humans are less than welcoming. First of all, the L’eihr can speak telepathically to one another. Secondly, all L’ehir are generically bred to be flawless, highly intelligent, and immune to most disease. And they’re all remarkable good looking. Never trust a race of perfect pretty people.
Cara is feeling less than honored by the opportunity to host an alien exchange student. Her friends are all anti-alien, especially her popular jock boyfriend. But it’s because of the L’eihr that Cara’s mother survived cancer a year ago and hosting the alien means Cara is guaranteed a free ride to the college of her choice. It’s a deal she can’t pass up, even it if also means she has to spend a year on the L’eihr home planet to complete the course.
Cara’s plan is to be a polite but distant host, get through the year, cash her check. What she doesn’t expect is for her host student Aelyx to be so damn hot! Or for her best friend and boyfriend to turn against her for her decision to host an alien. Before Cara knows it, her strange alien houseguest is the only person other than her parents who will even speak to her. But when Cara starts getting death threats, things get serious.
Alienated is the perfect title for this book. What Cara experiences is akin to school desegregation in the 1960s, a comparison not lost of Cara. People’s bigotry and small mindedness about the perceived differences between humans and the L’eihr turn violent quickly. Cara is ostracized by her friends and classmates, which only works to draw Cara and Aelyx together. Yes, Cara immediately finds Aelyx attractive, but this isn’t instalove. Cara and Aelyx move together gradually and organically, but inevitably. But while Cara is fighting for Aelyx, he may be planning the ultimate betrayal.
Alienated combines politics, intergalactic cultural clash, intrigue and romance with cosmic results!
Judge a Book by its Cover: The cover of Alienated is gorgeous. Cara is laying in the green grass of earth gazing up as Aleyx is mirrored above her, lounging in the gray grass of L’ehir gazing down at her. *Swoon*
Me Talk Pretty: Landers captures the voice of Cara perfectly. Cara is smart, clever, hot headed, moody…she’s a teenager. Aelyx is well….not human. He misses social cues, is honest to the point of rudeness and he feels superior to his human host. But he’s also witty and endearing. They make the perfect hot and cold pair.
Audiobook Narration: Initially I wasn’t blown away by the narration, but I warmed up to her.
Kick-Ass Factor: Cara kicks ass with her strength of character rather than brute strength. Cara doesn’t start off as an alien cheerleader, but she signed up for the exchange program and Cara doesn’t do anything half-ass. Despite her growing unpopularity, she stands her ground because that’s the kind of person she is. But as time goes on and she gets to know Aelyx, she continues to stand her ground because they develop a genuine connection and she believes in the alliance between humans and L’ehir. Even when her personally safety is put at risk, Cara refuses to just walk away from the alliance. Frankly, kicking moral ass is harder than kicking physical ass.
He Said/She Said: The relationship between Cara and Aelyx doesn’t start off so smoothly. Cara is used to being the smartest high school student in the room and Aelyx is bluntly honest about his superior intellect, which makes for some very awkward moments. But there’s a thin line between love and hate and when things start to heat up between these too, it gets intense!
The Neil DeGasse Tyson Test: The L’ehir are clearly humanoids and could pass for humans if it weren’t for the tunics and ponytails they wear. The biology is similar enough to humans that we can assume Cara and Aelyx can successful….mate. The L’ehir have “mind speak” which they attribute to being able to access are larger percentage of their brains than humans. So, does the science work? For the most part.
Open tab/Last call: I finished Alienated and immediately picked up book 2, Invaded (review soon to come). Clearly I was smitten with Cara and Aelyx and eager to know where their story goes next. Ms. Landers, I’m sticking around for the next leg of the journey and the drinks are on me!
Alienated by Melissa Landers, Disney Hyperion, Feb 4, 2014, 344 pages.