Series: Alienated #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on February 4th 2014
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.
I tend to prefer to watch my sci-fi than read it and while I did enjoy Alienated it was slightly too fluffy for me to get truly invested in as I felt confused at times as to whether I was reading a cute and fun contemporary or a solid science fiction novel. I think the fact that I’m thoroughly enjoying Star-crossed, the TV show with the almost identical plot meant Alienated did stay firmly in my favour throughout despite any lukewarm feelings I held as I read.
When aliens called the L’eihr’s make contact with Earth the reaction to their presence is mixed. While their advanced technology and disease curing abilities are thoroughly welcomed in particular by the family of our heroine Cara Sweeney, there is also a definite feeling of unease which is amplified with the announcement of a student exchange programme. When Cara is chosen as student ambassador for the US and must host an alien called Aelyx she is unsure if it’s worth the risk to her family and friends when anti-alien protestors make their presence felt not to mention the fact that Aelyx isn’t exactly the friendliest “little green man” to boot. As time goes on Cara finds that for every difference she and Aelyx share, the most startling discovery is just how alike they are.
I really enjoyed Cara as an MC. I found her to be intelligent, sensible, sweet and funny and both aware of her imperfections and willing to find strength in them. She is really put through the ringer in this novel when she agrees to take part in the exchange programme. She is unceremoniously dumped by both her boyfriend and her best friend, threatened constantly with physical violence and verbal insults and has to watch her family go through the pain of being ostracised by the community. Despite all the hardship she never once wavers in her belief that what she is doing will be beneficial to her race in the long term and is determined to stay strong no matter the cost.
It took me a little longer to really have any feelings of positivity towards Aelyx as at first it was arrogant and dismissive to both Cara and the human race and was willing to put them in danger to achieve his own goals. However as the book went on and he and Cara connected I loved how he grew to be a caring and compassionate person and I loved the relationship he forged with Cara.
Cara and Aelyx’s friendship was definitely the highlight of the book for me and it was refreshing to read a book without insta-love; there is nothing better for me than the slow burn as a couple truly get to know each other first and connect on a much deeper level than simply looks and lust. Aelyx and Cara really worked at finding a common ground first to build the foundation of their friendship and I was interested to see how it would develop.
The darker side of the novel and its exploration of racism and prejudice was another highlight for me although at times the overall feeling of “fluffiness” I mentioned before I believe hampered the book from truly exploring this more insidious side of both the humans and aliens however it still managed to hit home and created serious discomfort for me at times as I read some of the acts perpetrated against Cara, Aelyx and those they cared about.
Overall, Alienated is a fun, cute and interesting novel and while I would deem it more to be on the forgettable side and not one to put on the reread shelf I am still definitely interested in finding out what is in store for Cara and Aelyx in the next instalment!