Alienated by Melissa Landers tells the story of Cara Sweeney, teenage high school student and Aelyx a young L’eihr visiting Earth. The concept is pretty straightforward. Some years prior to the story, the people of Earth had made contact with an alien civilisation the L’eihr. The two peoples have an amicable if distant relationship and in order to foster a greater understanding of their respective cultures a student exchange program has been initiated. Cara and Aelyx are chosen as two of the six young ambassadors for the program. I have to say I really loved this book and thought it was beautifully written.
What I liked
Character development. Both Cara and Aelyx undergo a great deal of character development throughout the book. Interestingly, Cara’s arc is almost the opposite of many young adult protagonists. She starts the book confident and sure of her path but as she goes through the challenges of the exchange, her self assurance is given quite a beating. However she still remains true to her word despite significant pressure. Aelyx’s journey is more of overcoming prejudice – he starts off determined to hate his human hosts and has an ulterior motive for joining the program. As he gets to know his hosts – especially Cara – his attitude changes.
Grounded in realism. OK, we are talking aliens here, but the basic concept and the reaction of the locals to Aelyx is all too familiar. We may be in 21st century small town America with the townspeople protesting angrily at the presence of a L’eihr in their school, but we could just as easily be in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 with the first black students attending the high school. The supernatural element is pretty low key in the book; much more emphasis is put on how Cara deals with the reaction of those against the program and of her growing relationship with Aelyx.
What i wasn’t so fond of
The romance. I wasn’t really sold on this – I felt it moved too quickly from culture clash and prejudice to swapping saliva. But then again, I’ve never been fond of teenage love at first sight romances.
I will certainly be checking out the sequel whenever it’s available – I look forward to reading more of these characters. I gave Alienated four and a half stars out of five.