Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Review: Alienated -- Melissa Landers

Release Date: February 4, 2014
Source: Netgalley
Published by: Disney Hyperion

Alienated by Melissa Landers -- Goodreads | Purchase

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.

Ten Likes/Dislikes:

1. (+) Cara, the protagonist - So what if Cara's a stereotypical fiery redhead? I like her. I liked her a lot, and she reminded me a bunch of Scarlet. Cara likes to win and has a very competitive personality. She coaches the debate team, is the valedictorian at her school, and refuses to back down even when she begins to receive death threats because she's intensely loyal and stubborn, a natural fighter. To round out her passionate, strong personality are stunning moments of vulnerability that make it easy to connect with her.

2. (+) World-building - You learn a great deal about the differences between L'eihr and Earth via exposition between Aelyx and Cara, but it's smooth and never goes on for too long. There are also quite a few scenes where we're specifically shown the differences in their abilities like with Silent Speech/the L'eihr version of telepathy and Aelyx's generally arrogant behavior and ability to learn things so quickly. I mostly ignored the explanations about the science since a lot of it didn't seem too unrealistic, so if you're able to do that and go with the flow on the world-building, I think you'll be good.

3. (+/-) The Beginning - The beginning was confusing for me because Aelyx used a lot of L'eihr terms that I didn't necessarily understand or care about at the time, and it sort of fell over my head. It walked a fine line between inserting terms just so that I knew that Aelyx came from a different culture and intriguing me with regard to his plan and why he was determined to follow through with it. If you're having trouble with the beginning, maybe try to go on a bit further and see whether it gets better for you.

4. (+/-) Romance - Here's the thing: I thought the romance was cute and done well, letting the relationship between Aelyx and Cara grow from distrust/hatred to mutual respect to friendship to romance, but I wasn't entirely behind it because you know from the start what Aelyx is planning to do, and it's a shame that it takes him so long to finally admit it to Cara. It's realistic with his character development, his arrogance and beliefs about humans, but that meant that I didn't entirely like him as the romantic interest because that was always there for us to know. (Also I generally am not a huge fan of arrogant love interests). As a side note, the romance isn't just cute; there are definitely quite a few steamy/sexy scenes.

5. (+) Themes - This reminds me of the series theme in the Under the Never Sky trilogy: all about the importance of two different peoples learning to understand and accept each other. And the thing is, the way Landers portrayed the intolerance (and the acceptance) shown by both cultures felt real both in how it grew over time and the sort of actions people might take (though some are less logical than others, but hey, prejudice, right?). It seemed well thought out and while a tad heavy-handed, easy to discuss, adding another layer to an otherwise light science fiction romance.

6. (+) Plot - Although the plot is less focused on developing the side cast (e.g. Tori, Eric, etc.), it is good at providing surprises. The foreshadowing was done well, so that when a plot twist occurred, I was both surprised and able to remember exactly how Landers had set us up for that reveal. I'm excited to read the sequel because there's a lot of unanswered questions and some of the final plot twists make me anxious regarding thematic discussion, but hey, in general the book and its plot were plain ole entertaining.

7. (+) Humor - Down below I mention how the book reminds me of Rachel Hawkins' novels and that is mainly because of the voice. Cara's smart-ass humor and the teasing nature in the interactions between Aelyx and her brought a smile to my face many times, and I bookmarked a bunch of different pages for that reason. The line that did not amuse me was:
"...I'm going to the bathroom, not to Beirut. What horrible fate do you think's waiting for me in there? Death by toilet swirly?" (241; note: this quote is from an uncorrected ARC and may change later.)
Bah! (For those of you who don't know, I'm Lebanese-American). For a book that discusses the effects of intolerance, it seems really sad to have such a throwaway line about the Middle East, potentially propagating further stereotypes (not to mention some of the character stereotypes like the mean popular girl, but that's beside the point). I've been to Beirut. I've seen the damage that was wrought in the 2006 Hezbollah war with Israel, but a good portion of the city is not only stunningly gorgeous and repaired but also safe for tourists (it was, after all, once called the Paris of the Middle East. And it's going to host the Pan Arab Games in 2015, so it can't be completely dangerous if they're willing to let athletes travel there...) And yes, I know about the car bombing at the end of December, but ARCs had been made long before that happened, so to me that's not really justification. (Yeah, yeah, I'm taking it too personally, I know).

8. (+) Writing - Landers nails both teen voices really well, and does this in third person so it never feels like Cara or Aelyx get to be too much, too intense or whiney or angsty. This is why I said below that it reminded me of Anna and the French Kiss and Rachel Hawkins. It's got some of the angst in those romances while maintaining a light, peppy humor that makes the writing feel fresh and real.

9. (+/-) Pacing - What kept me from liking this novel more was that I'd felt a tad restless while reading. Sometimes it was due to Aelyx, as stated above, and sometimes it was due to the fact that I wanted more to happen. This book is paced well, allowing the romance between Aelyx and Cara to develop gradually while raising the stakes re: the hatred and intolerance that they face. However, I couldn't help but want a tad more action and conflict, and that's mainly where my dissatisfaction with the pacing comes from.

10. (+) The Cover - Minus the white-washing, this cover is good for portraying the light science fiction feel and the central romance that accompanies it. Plus it's so colorful, visually stunning in a way that'd stand out in a bookstore, and emphasizes the cultural differences between the L'eihr and humans.

I didn't expect to like this as much as I did, but this reminds me of a light science fiction version of "Anna and the French Kiss meets Rachel Hawkins." Adorable, fluffy fun but with an important theme.

Also, might I add that people who want more parental involvement in their young adult novels or more dynamic familial interactions will be pleased with this novel? Cara's parents are adorable, and I love that Landers provided an alternate depiction to what you normally see in the YA world.


  1. Well,I read this book a while ago and wrote my review on my blog
    I liked it a lot
    I would be glad if you check it out
    GREAT review
    Your reader,

    1. I will soon, hopefully! I've been really behind on commenting on other blogs, but I'm looking to catch up! I've just caught up in replying to comments so...

  2. I feel like I would have similar reservations about the romance; how can you back it, when you know one half isn't being truthful?

    I love the sound of a competitive protagonist, though, and funny teen voices usually goes over quite well with me. Hopefully I don't mind the pacing too much, though!

    1. I mean, in all reality, we're not truthful about a lot of things, but this is so major that I feel like *I* can't quite forgive the romantic interest for that even if the MC does. Yes! Competitive protagonists with funny voices are rare and quite enjoyable. I hope that and the pacing work out for you :).

  3. I'm excited about this book and glad to hear you enjoyed it. The fact that it's a light science fiction version of Anna and the French Kiss...can't wait! Great review! ~Pam

    1. Yay, Pam! I hope you like it. I hope to get to see a review from you soon about the book and get to discuss it with you :).

  4. I like a girl who is driven and passionate and doesn't give up and that's exactly what Cara sounds like. (On that note, she reminded you of Scarlet? Must read that soon. That hardcover on my shelf has been sitting wayyy too long without any attention other than me staring at it constantly.) Oh, I'm glad that the worlds are different. I've only read one alien book so far. Or rather, a seris. The JLA one and I wish it had a bit more on the Luxen world. Heh, everyone talks about the romance :') I always approve a romance that's done well! While I didn't find Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins to be amazing (I think I actually DNF-d that one O.o Ooophs!), then this humor is totally my kind, though I'm sorry it offends your culture and origin. I'm sure the author didn't mean it as something offencive, but it's something that one should think about when writing a book. I approve the relationship and action to intwine with each other and keep the pacing going, but I'm intrigued to know whether or not I'll find it good or meh. I feel like the cover portrays the book (based on people's thoughts) perfectly, but I don't like it one bit. I'm the black sheep, I know, but I just don't find it appealing. Oh, well. Thanks for your gorgeous review, love:)

    1. Hahaha Siiri so many series for you to catch up on! She does remind me a lot of Scarlet - both have that fiery red-headed protagonist type about them. And yes! I agree. Haven't seen a lot of books with aliens that go into depth about the different alien worlds. Hahaha, yes, you mentioned DNFing Hex Hall before :P. Well, it was just one line. It just came as a shocker to me since the whole book was about tolerance and the MC said that. But I hope the humor really works out for you and the relationship too, and yesss. The cover does portray the book really well - I hope that's not a sign for what you'll think of it!

  5. I could not agree more, Christina! I felt the same way about this book. I expected light and fluffy (and a good deal of it was) but was pleasantly surprised that intolerance and clashing of cultures were two issues addressed. I also felt a bit miffed with Aelyx for a lot of the book. And wow, yes to the steam! I was totally digging the whole "this is how L'eirhans show affection' scene:) I'm a bit worried about the sequel though--I fear we may be heading into love triangle territory which distresses me and feels totally unnecessary. We shall see! Great review and it's good to be back in action visiting some of my fave blogs again:)

    1. Yes. Love triangle territory is very worrisome - I am hoping that the hints of this new guy are not going to turn into full blown things. Or even something that ends up driving a huge wedge between Aelyx and Cara because that guy... Bleh. And well, that kind of drama too. And yeaaahhh, that show affection scene was pleasantly steamy and unexpected but great for the book. Glad we agreed on a lot of the same things, Heather :D.

  6. I loved the first kiss scene. I thought it was hilarious. However, otherwise the romance was a bit clunky. I didn't mind his arrogance so much as the fact that he went from being indifferent to giving her a nickname to loving her over the course of like twenty pages and WHAT.

    Also, I HATE the cover because in what way is that dude russet-skinned? ARGH.

    1. Did he? I can't remember that bit :O. I actually thought it was well done - that although he might've admitted to loving her later, he hadn't gotten to the point where he accepted it up till then. The whole internal v. external. And now you've got me curious about the first kiss scene! I can't remember that. Was that the one with them debating who was the better kisser?

      Yeaaaahhhhhh. Whitewashing :/.


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