YA Review: ALIENATED by Melissa Landers

Have you ever picked up a book and thought, “This author has been inside my head?” That’s kind of how I felt when I started reading ALIENATED by Melissa Landers. Completely different premise, and yet her alien race and planet bore an eery number of similarities to those in my middle grade sci-fi novel. Hmm. Great minds? Anyway, here’s the description.

Alienated by Melissa LandersTwo 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.

Here are the five things I loved most:

1. The sci-fi – This was totally my kind of sci-fi, with human-like aliens and cool gadgets and a bit of space thrown in.

2. The integration story – On the surface, the story is about humans and aliens, but it’s clearly a broader look at fear of integration and change. There are those on both sides who resist, those who are willing to stand up no matter what it costs them, and those who want to do what’s right but are afraid. It was a really inventive way to show a very important story.

3. The romance – To be honest, for about half of the book, I wasn’t sure I was going to buy the romance, mainly because of Aelex’s character and the nature of the L’eihrs. But once he started to open up, it became very believable and I was rooting for them all the way.

4. Aelex – Talk about a flawed hero. It took me a while to warm up to Aelex, but I think that was the point, and notice that I’m listing him under one of the things I loved best. He wasn’t the typical YA love interest the girl falls for right away. He had to earn Cara and the reader, too, thanks to his actions. He’s the one with the real character arc in the story.

5. The stakes – Things just keep escalating from the moment Cara finds out she’s been selected for the exchange program. Ms. Landers doesn’t go easy on these characters, from a physical or emotional standpoint, and the stakes in the end are catastrophic. I can’t imagine what she has in store for the rest of the series!

Has anyone else read ALIENATED? What did you think?

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