Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Alienated by: Melissa Landers


Title: Alienated (Alienated, #1)
Author: Melissa Landers
ISBN: 1423170288
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Romance
Theme(s): Aliens, Futuristic
Length: 352 pgs
Binding: Hardcover
Published: 4 February 2014; Disney Hyperion
Buy: Amazon.com, BN.com

Synopsis:

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.

My Rating:

My Review: First, there were vampires. Then, there were werewolves. Now, there are....ALIENS! Well, okay, so aliens are nothing new in YA literature, BUT I do see a revival of some sorts. And not just in books. With the upcoming CW TV series STAR-CROSSED starting soon (About an epic romance between a human girl and an alien boy when he and eight others of his kind are integrated into a suburban high school-- sound familiar?), Alienated by Melissa Landers couldn't have come out at a more perfect time. While the chemistry between the two main characters seemed a little weak and I don't particular like the direction the series is going in, what sets this YA science fiction novel apart from the rest is solid writing, well-paced humor, unexpected thought provoking/tender moments, and one hot steamy scene that other YA authors can learn a thing or two from!

Since the book blurb summarizes the novel perfectly, I am just going to dive right into my review. Here is what I liked. Not only is the story written in third person which is a nice change from the first person narration usually seen in most YA literature, it also goes back to the old fashion way of switching perspectives. Instead of alternating chapters, Cara and Aelyx's POV are seamlessly blended throughout the story and each has a very distinct voice which makes this style work.

I absolutely loved Cara's parents, Bill and Eileen Sweeney. I know that may sound like a strange thing to rave about in a YA novel, but you can tell Landers put a lot of thought into these two characters. In YA lit, parents are usually missing, silent, or dysfunctional. But in Alienated, Cara's parents are a solid presence throughout the book. Their love and affection for one another is contagious, despite Cara's irritation at constantly walking in on her parents making out anywhere and everywhere.  But what gives her parents that realistic feel is their backstory. Cara's mother had been dying from cancer. Thanks to a native plant from L'eihr that kills cancer cells, she is given a second chance at life. Cara said that before the cancer, her parents hadn't always been so lovely dovey. And that is why Bill and Eileen are so endearing. Not many people get a second chance at life, so instead of taking it for granted, they spend every moment...

rediscovering each other and their love.

While this human vs. alien tale doesn't raise too many new questions, one thing I did like about this story is the fact that while the L'eihrs are highly intelligent beings with superior technology, they aren't perfect. The L'eihrs may boast about their non-violent, climate controlled world, but they have one common flaw-- the thirst for knowledge. It's a subtle theme throughout the book, but becomes apparent once their problems with cloning is revealed by Aelyx. (You'll have to read it to find out :)

I was pleasantly surprised with the humor in Alienated. Some authors struggle with this, oftentimes going overboard or making funny moments feel forced. This is not the case with Landers. The humor is well paced and flows naturally, whether it's a scene or quirky word/phrase. For example, Cara comparing her parents' makeout sessions to "Geriatric Porn". Or Aelyx's reactions whenever he tries human food. L'eihrs are used to eating bland food, so things that we take for granted like pizza or lasagna is way too spicy for their taste buds. One funny scene is when Cara tries to convince Aelyx to eat chocolate:

"What's this?" He brought the brown square to his nose. "It smells musty."
"It's chocolate. You'll love it." [Cara said.]
"That's what you said about Skittles. I vomited a rainbow."

Even though Alienated is mostly a light hearted read, there were quite a few touching/eye opening moments that crept up on me, but also added more depth to the story. There are two that come to mind. The first is when Aelyx learns that love is the key to keeping his "fake puppy" alive. Cara and Aelyx are very competitive and it drives Cara crazy that no matter what game they play, Aelyx always wins. So she is surprised to see him struggle while playing "Puppy Love", an old game she used to play when she was younger. The object of the game is to keep the "puppy" alive. But no matter what he does, the "puppy" keeps dying. He "feeds" it, gives it exercise, etc. Cara finally gives him the key ingredient, which is love. This puzzles Aelyx, since love is an emotion foreign to him, let alone trying to figure out how to show acts of love to a fake puppy in a game.

The second scene that pulled on my heartstrings is when one of the other alien exchange students, Eron, tells Aelyx why he is having second thoughts about going through with their plan.

Aelyx asked, "What changed your mind, Eron?"
"My family." He caught himself and corrected, "My host family, I mean. They've made me one of their own. Especially the little one--Ming."
"The one who wants to play alien invaders every day?" Aelyx asked.
A brilliant smile curved Eron's mouth, so wide that it crinkled the skin around his eyes. "Families are only allowed one child here, but Ming was adopted after his parents died. He never thought he'd have a brother, but now he says he has one. "Eron shook his head as if in awe. "He calls me his brother."

I have to admit that lately I've been reading a lot of adult romance, so when I started Alienated, I had to mentally switch gears. I was about 150 pages in when I started to wonder if/when Cara and Aelyx were going to kiss. Imagine my surprise when their first kiss turned into one of the most sensual love scenes I've read in quite awhile.  Now let me clarify that this book is very clean and completely appropriate for teens 13+. Melissa Landers knows how to write some really hot love scenes without the characters going all the way or getting vulgar. My favorite one is when Aelyx innocently teaches Cara Silent Speech, which is communicating with someone through the mind instead of physically speaking. L'eihrs aren't big on touching, so Cara tells Aelyx he doesn't know what he's missing when he confesses that he's never kissed a girl before. On the other hand, Aelyx arrogantly believes that his people's equivalent for "making out" is much more superior and effective then swapping spit like humans do. This leads to a very hot challenge. And they prove each other both wrong...or right, depending on how you look at it!

So here is what I didn't like. For a 350 page book, you'd think the chemistry between Cara and Aelyx would be explosive. But something was definitely...off. I tried going back and rereading some scenes to try to pin point exactly what didn't work for me. Therein lies the problem, which is with Aelyx. For the majority of the book he is this cold, arrogant being from another planet. Then suddenly, like a light switch abruptly turned on, he has embraced all of his emotions, conquered his issues with physical contact, and made declarations of love. It just didn't feel like a smooth transition or believable. I think a few more scenes with him opening up to Cara's parents would have helped. I know, sounds weird, but Aelyx comes from a place where parents don't exist. Yes, Aelyx does grow fond of the Sweeney's and vice versa, but considering they eventually put their daughter's life in his hands, I wanted to see him have a light bulb moment as to why parents are so important considering he has none.

The next thing I had problems with, which is a little hard to talk about because I'm getting into spoiler territory, is the way Melissa Landers sets things up for book 2. I'm not going to give any details as to why this might happen, but so far it looks like Aelyx and Cara might be separated for the majority of the second novel which is a clich├ęd plot device used over and over again in YA literature. Then out of no where, at the tale end of the story, the author throws in this other male character, setting up for a possible love triangle. Really? I'm not hating on love triangles, they can be a good thing. However, I personally feel Alienated could have been wrapped up and perfect as a stand-a-lone novel. It's almost as if some of the events Landers added at the end (including the possible love triangle) were the best she could come up with in order to turn this story into a 2 or 3 book deal. Hell, if she is really bent on expanding this into a series, why does book 2 have to focus on Cara and Aelyx? Why not write about Cara's brother Troy and his experience on L'eihr? Yeah, he's a little older but with a little creativity, there is potential.

My very last complaint, which is not the author's fault, has to do with the cover art. It is gorgeous and eye catching but the male on the cover totally does not look like Aelyx. Aelyx is supposed to have long hair and russet colored skin. Yeah, you see what I mean. Again, I know most authors don't have control over cover art and I am sure Melissa Landers was happy with what she got because it could have been WAY worse. At least it catches your eye and the top half does try to represent Aelyx's home planet with its bland, muted colors.

Overall, Alienated was a solidly written novel which is why I rated it a 4 out of 5 stars. The plot might not have been completely original but she did get creative with the L'eihrs which was fun to read about. I just wish the ending hadn't felt so contrived.

best wishes,mia


Are you a fan of alien/human romance? Check out these videos below, starting with the book trailer for Alienated by Melissa Landers.


Check out the trailer for the upcoming CW tv series STAR-CROSSED.

Want to watch more alien/human romance? Check out the trailer for ROSWELL, a series that aired for 3 seasons on the WB from 1999-2002. A first of its kind. (This is a real tv show. below is a fanmade video with clips playing to the theme song of the show, Here With Me by Dido)


24 comments:

  1. Hi Mia! I'm a new follower via GFC and Google+ and I love meeting new bloggers too! Nice to meet you :)

    I've been seeing this book so much recently that I feel like I should read it too! I'm glad it doesn't sound like a story with instalove, and that you enjoyed it quite a bit. I also just watched the trailer for Starcrossed and feel like the entire plot was just spoiled lol Actually, the Selection pilot wasn't picked up by the CW - twice! :(, but they picked up Starcrossed! Hopefully it would be good!

    Isabelle @ Isabelle's Book Reviews

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    1. Hi Isabelle! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, no insta love in Alienated which is a breath of fresh air. Star-crossed looks sooooo good! I can't wait til Monday night. And thanks for the heads up about The Selection. I wasn't sure if it had gotten picked up or not.

      Mia :)

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  2. I am really getting into the whole alien concept. So happy this one was good!

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    1. Me, too. I was worried when I requested it, worried that I became seduced by the cover and book blurb. But it quickly grabs your attention. Let me know what you think whenever you get around to it :)

      Mia

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  3. Amazing review can't wait to read this one, oh the cover is so amazing ! I loved how you added the hilarious qoutes from the book. Could you also tell me how you add you blog link to a comment like you did on my blog :)

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  4. Hey Rimsha! Thanks for stopping by and for the compliment! Sure, I will stop over your blog now and explain how to leave your blog link in the comment sections!

    :) Mia

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    1. Thank u so much Mia you are awesome I totally got it see... :)

      Rimsha@Ramblings of a Bookworm

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  5. I was hesitant about the whole alien romance trend at first, but Obsidian smoothly transitioned me into believing that aliens could seriously be the sexiest thing ever. Great review and thanks for visiting my blog! I love finding people who love books as much as me!

    Amber @ My Bookshelf Is Hungry

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    1. Hi Amber! I actually haven't read Obsidian yet, but it is sitting on my bookshelf, calling my name. I've heard all good things about that series.

      I'll be sure to visit your blog again soon! :)

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  6. HI Mia,
    I thought I'd stop by and show your blog the same love you showed mine! Thank you for your amazing comment, it really made my day :D

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    1. Aww, thanks! Hey, it was all you. I really like your blog! I'll be stopping by again! And thanks for the visit :)

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  7. Hi Mia,
    Thanks for following my blog! I love the way your blog looks, it's really beautiful.
    I just became a new follower : I will be watching your blog!!

    Happy reading!

    Myra @ I'm loving books: http://imlovingbooks.blogspot.nl

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    1. Hi Myra! Thanks for stopping by too. I will be checking out yours on a weekly basis. Have a great week! :)

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  8. As soon as you described this book with the aliens integrating into human society my first thoughts were Roswell! I loved that series and read all the accompanying books.
    This one sounds interesting and I have to admit I'm fascinated by just what spoilers your avoiding. I've seen this book around but had no real desire to read it but now...
    I think it's funny that you have mentioned two of my pet hates in this review - absent parents and covers not matching the story. I love the idea that the parents are around in this book. Great review and I think I'll check to see if my library has a copy. .

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    1. Hi Kate! Thanks for the compliment! Well, you know what they say, great minds think alike :) The whole absent parent thing in YA lit didn't really bother me until I read this book and realized, wow, these parents really care, and Cara has a strong bond with them. That's when it hit me that I can't quite remember the last YA novel with parents actually in the story, playing an important role. Pretty interesting.

      Anyway! Thanks for stopping by! I look forward to hopping on your blog weekly to see what's going :)

      Mia

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  9. I wasn't interested in this book but now I am! Sounds good, I have read a couple of YA aliens books and liked them so maybe I'll like this one too :)

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  10. Hey, Gaby! It's definitely worth a read! Maybe save this one for the summer. It would make a great beach read :)

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  11. Hey, Mia!

    Just picked this up at Strand the other day--stoked to read it. Glad you got a kick out of it, and I'm excited to try out star-crossed, too. :) Thanks for the follow. Consider yourself followed back!

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    1. Hey, Alice! OMG, Star-crossed was REALLY good. The pilot just aired this past Monday. Definitely has quite a few similarities to Alienated but I am okay with that!

      Anyway, whenever you get around to reviewing it, let me know. I always like to see what others think about the same books I've read.

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

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  12. I've been reading a lot of good reviews about this book but I wasn't sure about alien and human love story so I haven't pick this one yet. Great review!

    P.S. Thank you for visiting my blog. :)

    Erleen @ Books For YA!

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    1. Definitely worth checking out and if you haven't read any books about human/alien love, this may be a great introduction into the genre. Thanks for stopping by as well :)

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  13. I read The 5th Wave last year and I was one of the people who liked the book haha. I'll give this one a try, because it sounds pretty good. Great review!

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  14. Hey Mia, thanks for stopping by my blog earlier! I sent you a friend request on goodreads. This book is on my TBR list, so I'm really glad I got to read your review and that you liked it! It sounds really good, even with the sudden development of the relationship between the main characters (something that happens way too often in YA lit, sadly).

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