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.
There are so many books out there that are never as good as the cover or synopsis make them out to be, but luckily, Melissa Landers delivered everything I expected with Alienated. Honestly, forget that new The CW show StarCrossed, because it has nothing on Lander’s debut on an intergalactic exchange program-turned-sour. Alienated is a fast and fun read, and even though it’s a little on the fluffy side of things, I found myself enjoying it immensely. Landers has convincingly portrayed an intergalactic Romeo & Juliet type of a story, and both her leads – Cara and Aelyx, respectively – are both well developed and had great chemistry from the start. Yes, Landers’ writing is definitely aimed at the younger folks in young adult, but I still felt attached to the characters and their struggles throughout this read, and absolutely loved the pace and timing of the romance. Frankly, Alienated was quite the perfect book, in its genre.
Cara, an ambitious redhead, is given the option to host one of the very first L’heir exchange students in order to strengthen the relations between Earth and the new alien species’. Cara accepts after much debate because she is promised a free card to any college she desires to attend and can write the very first blog on L’heir, their people and customs, to further her dream towards becoming a journalist after graduation. Secretly, Cara is motived to say yes because the L’heirs’ cancer medicine saved her mother prior to the books storyline. Aelyx, her rebellious and linguistically gifted exchange student, is sent to Earth with two of his best friends, and does everything in his power to sabotage an alliance between humans and L’heirs, even against his leaders wishes. At first, both Cara and Aelyx clash over their different cultures and worldviews, but with Cara facing prejudices because she’s simply a host to the alien, and Aelyx being threatened by radical L’heir hate groups, the two strike up a friendship that slowly and steadily turns to romance. When a horrible event upheaves everything they both believe in and reveals a devastating truth about Earth’s environmental status, Cara and Aelyx both have to make a tough choices to protect themselves and their respective worlds.
Lately, I’ve been pretty fed up with redhead heroines because they’ve become the new paranormal young adult trope somehow but I loved that Landers wrote it for reasons that were 100% legitimate. Cara perfectly encompasses everything Aelyx begins to love about Earth, even though he’s not fully aware of it at first, while Aelyx is everything Cara is fascinated with, and more. Cara features her world’s colours, and Aelyx’s his, and it’s super easy to have these two become the spokespersons for two very, very different stages of human (or alien) nature. While paranormal love stories can turn annoying once the leads finally get together, Cara and Aelyx’s relationship was such a gradual development that it never felt contrived or forced. It made absolute sense for these two to find companionship in each other. Cara’s best friends were utter shits, excuse my language, and I could’ve done without them, because they were too one-dimensional for my taste even as secondary characters, but I enjoyed how Cara stood strong for what she believed in and never let other people dictate her moral values. Aelyx was quite a character himself, and though I didn’t truly sympathize with him up until the end, he realized his wrongs and started making amends, which mirrored where he came from convincingly. The ending was a little too anticlimactic, considering how it was all set up, but it was more of a writing flaw than anything else. Since this is Landers’ debut, I can’t really fault her much, because I did enjoy reading all the way through. I’m very excited to see where Landers takes her characters and story next and how her intergalactic exchange program turned intergalactic political feud solves itself in the next instalment.