Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #50: Alienated

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #50: AlienatedAlienated by Melissa Landers
Series: Alienated #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on February 4, 2014
Genres: Humor, Science Fiction
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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three-stars

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.

Recommended by: Kayla Beck (Bibliophilia, Please)

Going into Alienated, I was totally expecting something light and fluffy. For some reason, I decided that humor would be the main thing, followed by a cute romance. Actually, though, Alienated was a good deal more serious and dark than anticipated, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. To a large degree, the central focus of Alienated is in fact xenophobia and a real consideration of the impact of the meeting of two such advanced cultures. Of course, there’s also some humor and quite a bit of romance too.

Before I get down to the actual reviewing of the book, can I talk about the cover for a moment? Before I read the book, I didn’t think the cover was perfect, but the technicolor Pushing Daisies flair charmed me and also gave me the mistaken idea that this was primarily a fluffy humor novel. Now, though, I am mighty annoyed. See, this cover? It’s been whitewashed. Aelyx, the dude on the cover, is described as having skin of a “russet” hue, like all L’eihr. Unless they decided to put Cara’s brother on the cover with her, because he traded places with Aelyx, this is unacceptable. Also, a nitpick: Aelyx is shown (sort of) on L’eihr while Cara’s on Earth, but he’s wearing the clothes he wore on Earth, and she was with him then. Where’s the traditional L’eihr costume? Come now.

Anyway, I suppose I should actually talk about the book. Generally, I’m not a huge fan of the aliens who just happen to be exactly like humans thing. What are the odds that life on two different planets will end up taking the same form? Still, I get why authors go for that, and I like that Landers put forth a theory for why that might be the case in the form of a myth. The theory’s probably not good for much really, but it says to me that Landers put a LOT of thought into Alienated‘s world building.

Landers’ world building really is quite good. She gets down into a lot of details and creates a culture in the L’eihr that is really quite distinct. Though much like humans in basic form, the L’eihr are undoubtedly alien. They can communicate telepathically and are much more intelligent than humans. Thankfully, they’re almost entirely non-violent or humanity would be toast.

Perhaps, though, humanity deserves to be incinerated. It sort of feels like all of humanity welcomes the L’eihr like the Westboro Baptist Church would welcome the gay pride parade. Essentially, I found the reactions utterly sickening. At the same time, it did feel believable; I do not see humanity taking it particularly well should it be discovered that there is intelligent life out there and it’s outclassed us in every way. I do like the smaller details quite a bit, like the way religious belief was affected by the arrival of the L’eihr and things like that.

For the most part, I’m a big fan of the romance. There’s just something about the emotionless Vulcan L’eihr experiencing feelings that really gets me. Plus, Melissa Landers writes some good kissing and snuggling scenes. Also, the scene where Cara and Aelyx first get together? Pretty much the most hilarious thing ever. I do have one reservation here, though: the romantic feelings seemed to appear out of nowhere. The two do, I think, have a believable connection, but it went from Aelyx not thinking of her that way to him suddenly giving her an incredibly cheesy nickname out of the blue. Dear YA, I do not like cutesy nicknames. Couple nicknames are only adorable if they’re a bit insulting or entirely ridiculous. Though I’m mostly on the spaceship, I wouldn’t mind if it crashed either, to be honest. Either way is cool.

One aspect of the book really grated on me, however: Cara’s relationship with her best friend, Tori. Cara’s boyfriend Eric is also problematic, but Tori is more so. Initially, I loved Tori. She’s a tiny, Hispanic dynamo who swears at everyone in Spanish. But then she proves to be an absolutely horrible friend to Cara, turning jealous and selfish and vain. There are not enough POC characters in fiction that I’m okay with this happening. And, of course, through it all, Cara’s more forgiving than she should be, because she’s such a wonderful person. It seemed like Tori and Cara had a real friendship, and I didn’t get what Tori’s motivations were. Was she always that shallow? Did something happen? I don’t know, but I do not like what was done with that character one iota.

Overall, I’m pretty impressed with Melissa Lander’s Alienated, and I will most definitely be reading the second book in the series. Landers’ mixture of light-hearted humor and darker themes worked quite well. I hope to see a bit more consistency and motivation in the characterization, and for a continuation of the delightful world building.

Favorite Quote:

“I studied your history while I was still on L’eihr.” And with a smirk that had become his own personal signature, he added, “It didn’t take long.” He returned his attention to the copy of Advanced Binuclear Theories the science teacher had lent him. maybe he should read How to Avoid Acting Like a Pretentious Ass instead.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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28 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #50: Alienated”

  1. Jen says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed this! This was a surprise hit for me. Like you, I went into it expecting a light and fluffy read but that wasn’t what I got at all. I also thought the cover, while pretty, was lacking. Melissa herself has said that “Cah-ra” has more junk in her trunk than the girl on the cover. 😀
    Jen recently posted…BLOG TOUR: Salt by Danielle EllisonMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Oh, interesting. I didn’t really get the junk in the trunk thing from the novel, but that’s cool to know.

  2. I also thought it was more light and fluffy! Good to know it’s more serious than what I thought it to be, as that helps with my expectations when I’ll read Alienated. I think I actually quite like that it’s not light but deals with more serious stuff like the way humans react to the aliens (which sounds very believable, because I’m pretty sure humanity won’t be welcoming if there were actual aliens). I’m looking forward to it more now 🙂

    I never really liked the cover, but whitewashing is so not okay. I sort of understand they didn’t want to put the male model in traditional L’eihr clothing, because this is cheaper. Although it would have been awesome if they did. But whitewashing is so not okay and it’s inexcusable.
    Kim @ The Nomadic Book Hoarder recently posted…Review: FangirlMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I mean, it’s not absurdly dark, but I definitely wouldn’t call it a fluff book. Ultimately, I think I like it more this way, but it did require some adjustment of expectations.

      Well, to make him look L’eihr, they’d just need to put him in all earth tones basically. Not jeans. lol.

  3. Wheeeee, I loved that you liked this one. I didn’t expect that it would be as serious as it was, as I was also expecting something more Sophie Kinsella-ish lol, and boy, am I GLAD it was deeper than I anticipated. I loved all of the politics in this one, and Aelyx made me laugh a lot.
    Faye @ The Social Potato recently posted…Review: Racing Savannah by Miranda KenneallyMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I don’t know where I got the idea this was going to be a silly book, but, yeah, not so much. There are some funny moments, but there was a lot more social commentary than anticipated. Aelyx made a lot of sense to me. I feel like I understand the L’eihr better than the humans. Haha.

  4. Stormy says:

    The darkness of this one surprised me too–it really threw me for a loop towards the end. Don’t get me wrong, it was good & I liked it, but it really just threw my reading balance off, so to speak!
    I remember being really annoyed by the whitewashing on the cover too. Ugh.
    I did like the romance in the end, but was a little cautious about it at first. It might be because of some of the things you mentioned–the feelings appearing from nowhere–but I could never quite put my finger on in while reading. I really liked this one–it wasn’t perfect, but a pretty good effort–and I really have a hope that book two will be even better. Crossing my fingers for that for sure!
    Stormy recently posted…The Saturday Morning Cup: Goals & ResolutionsMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Eh, yeah, I’m still not sold on this romance. If she went off with that one guy from the end, I’d be just as happy with that. I’m not opposed to the ship, but I’m also not shipping it particularly. I should be, but the transition of feelings step is so crucial and it got kind of skipped.

  5. Kayla Beck says:

    *does the happy dance* I’m so glad that you liked this one! I am with you on your issues with the cover, but I ignore them for the most part anymore. YA covers are generally terrible, and there’s not much point in acknowledging their existence.

    Anywho – I loved this book because of the writing and the fact that the science makes sense (for the most part). Too many YA scifi novels are stinkers when it comes to that. I also really liked the handling of the xenophobia and could totally see things going down like that.

    For the record, you won’t like Dark Prince nearly as well as this one. 🙂
    Kayla Beck recently posted…Review: Infinite by Jodi MeadowsMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      There’s awful and then there’s whitewashing. I wouldn’t review anything else, but whitewashing = UNACCEPTABLE.

      She really did a good job with the sciencey bits and particularly the culture clash. I thought that part was best, particularly how she hearkened it back to Civil Rights/school integration. It made it feel very realistic.

      Yay?

  6. kristin says:

    Wow you bring up a lot of great points in this review. I haven’t read it yet but it sounds like an interesting review. I think the cover will bug me as well. I like my covers to mean something, not just be a pretty face on the cover.
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  7. kristin says:

    *interesting read* sorry, haven’t had my coffee yet 😛
    kristin recently posted…Clean Your Shelf Giveaway HopMy Profile

  8. Mia Hayson says:

    From the blurb I wasn’t sure, but your review does a great book justice! Sounds fabulous and I can’t wait to read it!! <3
    Mia Hayson recently posted…When is Darcy not relevant: a blogfestMy Profile

  9. Angie F. says:

    Yay! I’m glad you liked this one! I’ve been really excited about it, since I’m getting really into alien/space Sci-Fi. I like that it’s darker than it appears to be, too. 😀
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  10. I’m actually glad to hear this one isn’t light and fluffy! I detest the cover though. I didn’t like it visually before, but now that you said it doesn’t even match the story, I like it even less. I’m glad I read your review otherwise I probably would have skipped Alienated. I love the sci-fi aspect and I can’t wait to see the culture shock. 🙂
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    • Christina Franke says:

      The cover really has nothing to recommend itself to me once I realized it was whitewashing. Nope, we’re done.

      But, yes, I think it’s worth a read. I’ll be curious to see where she goes with the next book.

  11. MJ says:

    Glad to here that this one worked out well for you. I sort of had it in my maybe pile, but now I think I might give it a whirl. I love me some decent alien/sci-fi books.
    MJ recently posted…I want to Avada Kedavra This Book: Life’s a Witch by Brittany GeragotelisMy Profile

  12. Molli says:

    I sort of pre-judged this book, but your review actually gives me a LOT of hope for it. So I liked hearing about the characters, and the romance dynamic (even though it sounds like that could have been developed a bit more.) I actually REALLY love alien things – *coughs* third year in a row rewatching DW *coughs* so I’m a little excited for this one.

    The main characters do sound pretty great, and I’m really glad the author set up some good world-building! It’s sad to think of humanity reacting like THAT to aliens, so that might be a bummer to read about but it’s probably also true at least for some factions.

    ugh the BFF character sounds like a piece of work though. Meh. WHY do we always have to have bffs fighting?
    Molli recently posted…Becoming a Better Blogger – #7: Making Time for MeMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Hahaha, I wish I could love DW this month, but about as far as I get is loving particular episodes. The romance definitely needed to get that crucial transition period better, but otherwise it’s good.

      Considering how humans react to other humans, I thought the responses were believable.

      FOR REAL. STOP WITH THE GIRL-HATE.

  13. I loved reading this <33

    For me, it was really cute and not as dark as I thought. I've read a lot darker and I was also expecting something light and fluffy. it wasn't really funny, but I loved Cara and how she wouldn't put up with Aelyx. I laughed way more than I should've while reading this too. So glad you enjoyed it and that cover is just BE-AUTIFUL!

    Awesome review and lol, that gif at the bottom *swoony*
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  14. Basically, my thoughts on the book was exactly the same as you! Looking back on the cover, I thought it looked a little rushed and the font was all out of place. I agree with the male model looking out of place as well and very white-washed. But, I did enjoy this book A LOT. Surprised myself how much I enjoyed it as well.

    And the way humanity reacted made me feel sick to my stomach because I know the author portrayed a snippet of how people would react in real life. UGH!

    Brilliant review, here’s a link to mine if you’re interested: http://www.thoughtsbyj.com/?p=929
    Joy @ Thoughts By J recently posted…Book Review: How to Convince a Boy to Kiss You by Tara EglingtonMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      She really got the reactions done well. It wasn’t over the top, but I totally see the radicals gaining strength and being the loudest voices in a situation like that.

  15. Kim says:

    Ugh, I cannot stand whitewashing on covers. Especially in YA (I’m looking at you, The Eternity Cure). So disappointing.

    But, I am *so* looking forward to reading this when it comes out. My skeptibrow does arch quite high with the whole “aliens almost exactly like humans” thing, but I can forgive it when there’s a really cute romance :p I just adore stories where the emotionless discover emotions. Complete sucker for them!
    Kim recently posted…Starters series & Social Club series: giveawayMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      If you love the emotionless trope, then it’s definitely worth a read. 🙂 The Spocks just get me. Or the Darcys. The idea of making a guy like that feel is rather heady.

  16. Kelly says:

    Hehe the Vulcan joke might end up being the reason I pick up Alienated; I love when the seemingly emotionless are just hiding their fuzzy warm feelings deep down!

    I will second Kim’s skeptibrow, however, but in regards to the best friend. That kind of behaviour just doesn’t fly, especially from an oh-so-rare POC character.

  17. Judith says:

    With this cover, it’s no wonder that you expected something light and fluffy. Honestly, that’s why I haven’t been interested in it so far. I do like that it’s darker than I thought. However, I hate that the cover is white-washed (which has nothing to do with the story but w/e) and unnecessary BFF drama. Seriously, that needs to STAHP. And ugh, nicknames. No. Lol. I’m glad you enjoyed it still, and that the romance was cute. I’m very specific about the romance I like, so I think I will skip this one like I originally planned to do.
    Judith recently posted…Ellice Reviews: How to LoveMy Profile

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