Book Review: Alienated

Published By: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Page Count: 352
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Science Fiction

I have to admit that I originally only picked this one up because of the cover. Isn't it gorgeous? The vivid colors drew me in originally, but then my mind started to wonder. Who are these people? What is their story? How are they connected? Aliens aren't typically my sort of reading fare (no, I haven't read Armentrout's Lux series and yes, I know I need to), but I was willing to give this a go. I'm so glad I stepped out of my normal reading comfort zone to try something different. Alienated was immensely entertaining and thought provoking. Besides, who can resist a gorgeous alien?

Cara Sweeney is a normal high school girl living in a typical Midwestern town. She has a loyal best friend, a hot boyfriend, the best grades at her high school, and a bright feature. Everything changes for Cara when she learns that she has been selected to participate in the L'eihr exchange program. A L'eihr (aka Alien) will be coming to live with her for one year and then she'll go to visit the L'eihr home planet. Cara knows this program will stir up anti-Alien sentiment, but she can't give up the chance to learn about a foreign culture. Plus, she could really use the scholarship money that goes along with the program. Cara also finds herself feeling obligated to participate since without the L'eihr species, her mother wouldn't be alive.

Cara gets more than she bargained for when the devastatingly handsome, Aelyx, is assigned to be the Sweeney's L'eihr student. He understands human customs in theory, but putting them into practice is more difficult than he imagined. Cara must help navigate the treacherous waters of high school and humanity. Along the way, Cara and Aelyx from a close knit bond that will be tried in numerous ways.

I really enjoyed the premise behind this novel. The L'eihr, while an Alien species, have a similar DNA structure as humans. I found the information about the L'eihr to be fascinating. I applaud Melissa Landers for her creativity with this one. 

In addition, to learning about L'eihr culture, I also enjoyed the relationship between Cara and Aelyx. These characters are vastly different, but somehow they manage to find common ground and become true friends. I was awed by Cara's resilience and tenacity. She is a girl I would certainly want on my side in an argument; Cara speaks her mind and stands up for what she feels is right - even when things are difficult. I don't know that I could have handled everything Cara faces from HALO with as much poise and grace as she manages. Of course, there are moments when she wallows in her grief over how things in her life have spiraled out of control, but I didn't begrudge these moments. Who wouldn't be remorseful when things that were important no longer exist?

Aelyx is also an interesting and complex character. He comes to Earth so sure of himself and what is right for his people. He has strong opinions about humans and doesn't really want to allow himself to mingle with them, but there is something about Cara that forces him to see things differently. He begins to realize that in spite of all the negative things the human race has done and continues to do, that there is a lot of goodness and potential there as well.

Furthermore, I enjoyed the balance between the fun and serious. Cara cracked me up; her banter with Aelyx constantly brought a smile to my face. In spite of the humor, there were some difficult topics to think about such as discrimination and xenophobia. While we may not have the L'eihr attending our schools, we do have students that must deal with prejudice on a daily basis. I couldn't help comparing Aelyx's plight to others that I have studied about during the Civil Rights Movement. The riots in front of the school and the armed escort between classes conjured up memories of the Little Rock Nine. Discrimination and bullying are very real concerns for modern students. I found Landers' commentary on these issues to be thought provoking and relevant in spite of the science fiction backdrop.

I also felt like there was a bit of the nature vs. nurture debate going on in this one. Cara serves as a symbol of nurture while Aelyx is the symbol for nature. Cara is raised in a family that shows affection and supports one another. On the other hand, Aelyx was born from an artificial womb and raised in a commune with little affection from his care takers. The personalities of these characters and how they evolve throughout the novel fascinated me - especially as I pondered this scientific debate.

Alienated was certainly an unexpected breath of fresh air. My biggest complaint is the lengthy wait for the next book. I want more of this society and these characters sooner rather than later.

One Last Gripe: I did find some of the conversations in the earlier chapters to be a bit silly. They didn't feel entirely realistic to me, but this problem does not linger for long.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I love the concept of a foreign exchange program with aliens. 

First Sentence: Winning.

Favorite Character: It's a tie between Cara and Aelyx.

Least Favorite Character: Eric

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.


  1. I do think this is a beautiful cover. And, I didn't know this was going to be a series. I'm intrigued. I haven't read about aliens in quite a while. Thanks for the great review.

  2. i liked this book a lot, too
    the whole alien idea fascinated me
    great review
    Your reader

  3. I absolutely LOVE the cover of this one! It's actually what originally caught my eye! But I've been dying to read it! I actually already pre-ordered it because it comes out the week before my birthday. I used the birthday excuse as a reason to buy it! I'm excited to see that you really enjoyed it, because I have extremely high hopes for this one! I <3 books about alien boys!! Awesome review! Cannot wait to get my copy!!!

    -Becca @Pivot Book Reviews


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