Alienated by Melissa Landers

13574417Expected publication: February 4th 2014 by Disney Hyperion

I’m in love with this cover and the premise of the book. That cover really fits the book perfectly. Who in their right young adult sci-fi mind wouldn’t be enamored when presented with intergalactic exchange students? But as it turns out my feelings about this book are all over the place. I liked some aspects (characterization, interesting world building, and fast narration) a lot and others I found simply boring or cliché: The mind speaking, the legends that L’eihrs are responsible for human mutation / evolution 10000 years ago, the high school drama. Mehmeh.Nonetheless, I was surprised to see how fast I reached the end of the book. The story is interesting enough, but the paranormal romance was nothing different from any other young adult romance.

“What?” She glanced up from her tea, her eyes like saucers.“You’ve never kissed a girl?”
He shrugged. “That’s not how we show affection.”
“Really?”
“Truly.”
“Too bad,” she said over the top of her mug. “You don’t know what you’re missing.”
“Not much, I imagine. I researched it, and it sounds bizarre to me.”
Cara smiled to herself. “Not if you’re doing it right. Nothing’s hotter than a good kiss.”
“Nothing except sh’ellam. It always leads to more.”
“So does an amazing kiss.”
The challenge in her eyes prompted him to say something he probably shouldn’t have. “Care to put it to a test?”

The aliens from K’eihr look like a better version of humans (better looking, a little bit smarter, more advanced). If you ask me, that is nothing short of boring but it fits the intended audience. I would have wished that the aliens were less human, less Vulcan-like and more I don’t know Klingon (Worf/warrior)-like. Maybe I was just too much into Star Trek and Babylon 5 as a teen to appreciate humanlike aliens with the only differences in terms of way of life, eating and behavior. Hell, even X-Men are starker in contrast to humans then the aliens in this story. I would be thrilled with a yummy Wolverine or Magneto for YA novels.

I have the suspicion that this book is not that different from the new sci-fi TV series Star-Crossed about a romance between a human girl and an alien boy when he and eight others of his kind are integrated into a suburban high school. You could have put an American in Paris and it would have been funnier to read. Indeed I’d recommend “A Year in the Merde” by Stephen Clarke for all those who want to have a laugh.

When I was 22 years old, I spent a year in France as an Erasmus exchange student so I can relate very well to the situation of feeling kind of unearthed, of missing accustomed food and long-term friends and longing to speak your own language again.

First Day in France I was like this

And I thought the next year will be freedom and party party party

But then I started talking in German to French people, English with the Germans, French with the British students, and even spoke once in Italian to a Chinese guy (poor guy). I admit I was under the influence of a lot of alkohol when that happend.

But then I started to put 2 and 2 together and finally understand French expression like “j’étais ronds comme une queue de pelle”

French people always made fun of me, because I still haven’t mastered their humor and sarcasm

And finally you go back after a year of freedom and everything has changed

Maybe because of my experience the story seemed a little bit farfetched with all the towns-people freaking out over one tiny humanlike alien. Racism aside, but I find it hard to believe that one insignificant student (even if from another planet) could make the whole school and town hate him simply by being. I also found that some of the experiences Aelyx makes could have been told in a more comical way. I wished there would have been more shown interaction with the other two alien exchange students and their respective new families (much potential there) or even how Cara’s lunatic brother fared on L’eihr. I have to admit the book was too much focused on Cara’s an Aelyx’s love interest and the high school drama evolving with the animosity of the lacrosse team towards Aelyx and the new romantic relationship between Cara’s best friend and her ex-boyfriend. Aelyx’s change of heart & behavior was a bit hasty. I found the Cara’s blogging somehow unnecessary and not well integrated into the overall storyline. Why create the illusion of something global / international when all the action is reduced to a small town high school somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

Anyway, in the end the book was nothing special to warrant a high ranking (at least for me) but it was entertaining enough and had some sweet moments. “Alienated” is perfect for all those who are already fangirling over paranormal YA series like “Hex Hall” by Rachel Hawkins. Just switch the witches and demons with aliens and voilà you have “Alienated”. I would also recommend this for everybody who enjoyed “These Broken Stars” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.

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