Alienated is a novel by Melissa Landers, the first of a new young adult series by adult romance author Macy Beckett. I read this as part of a read-a-long with My Friends are Fiction, On Starships and Dragonwings, and Scott Reads It.
Alienated follows the misadventures of Cara Sweeney while her very human family takes in a very non-human male, Aelyx. Aelyx is L’eihr, a distant planet that humans have only recently encountered. In the interest of diplomatic relations the L’eihrs have begun an exchange program offering three of the brightest youths the chance to live on earth for one year’s time. The agreement is that the three humans they stay with will then travel to L’eihr for a year afterwards. The reward for undertaking this is a hefty scholarship sum.
Cara, an aspiring journalist, starts a blog, Alienated, to record the events of their time together. But things quickly escalate into realms of fear and paranoia. Things begin to happen in the areas where the L’eihrs reside; crops begin to fail and an overall attitude of anger permeates the humans. Cara knows that she must be the best hostess to Aelyx but when his presence begins to affect her relationships she begins to question the exchange.
This book is fun, pure and simple. It’s a quick, enjoyable read and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I enjoyed the themes surrounding the L’eihrs who found themselves the targets of bigots and hate crimes. The civil rights elements were beautifully done and not too heavy-handed. The Science Fiction elements are also kept light and don’t weigh down the narrative. At its heart this book is a romance, plain and simple. The shared chemistry between Cara and Aelyx is sweet and tender. The tension between them as the book amps up gets quite steamy. It’s more of a book for fans who like a lot of kissing in their science fiction versus the traditional feel of the genre. That said, it’s a beautiful blend for readers who are leery of space opera. It’s the step before the diving board. Actually, strike that, it’s the gate of the fence surrounding the pool.
Cara is a great narrator, sharp and determined. She has a softness to her that speaks of her limits but doesn’t turn her into a useless young adult character. The decisions that she makes read true and authetic. Aelyx is also well-rounded. In the beginning he reads cold and emotionless like Data from Star Trek Next Gen, but by the end of the book he has less sharp edges. It’s wonderful to see him become “more human” as the book goes on.
As I said before this is the first in a new series. I look forward to the next book. It’s light, it’s fun. It’s worth picking up.
5 out of 5 stars.
* Alienated releases February 4, 2014.
** For the record, I kind of hate this cover now. He does not look like this. At all. It’s a terrible representation.