NOTE: I received the eARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
I'm not sure how to begin this review, and I don't know if I should say what I'm about to say, but hey - my review, my opinion. My rules.
Sadly, Alienated reminded me way too much of this other book I read last year. It's called Gravity, written by Melissa West.
Melissa West and Melissa Landers. I hadn't noticed, but hmmm. Suspicious, much?
Anywho. Why does it remind me of Gravity? Have you read Gravity? No? Well, let me see..
1. Aliens come to Earth to offer help - check
2. Aliens have covert plans - check
3. Humans aren't exactly clear what they want - check
4. Human girl falls for alien boy - check
5. Alien boy has got a big fat secret - check
6. Girl ends up on alien planet (to continue in book 2) - check
So what exactly is the difference then?
Well, the way I've put it, it seems like we're talking about the exact same book. But the story is slightly different. If it weren't, I'm guessing we'd have major copyright issues.
The story here is cuter. And the aliens who come to Earth are just ambassadors or sorts. Or exchange students to a special alien funded program. That would have all gone pretty well if said aliens didn't have an ulterior motive though. And if the Earthans weren't so completely biased to all things different.
The way I see it two major themes are covered here.
1. Freedom of choice. Do we have it? If we do, then why do our choices get bombarded with criticisms 24/7? Why does Cara have to defend her choice to help an alien boy adjust to Earth for a school year? Why does Cara have to struggle with being left by her friends and boyfriend?
2. Fear of the different. Because different equals evil, and evil (naturally) must be destroyed. Gosh! Humans can be so thick sometimes, no? Hello! Aliens offer to cure the Earth of pollution and major diseases. Why would anyone protest this?
Answer: fear that there is a cost to this. And perhaps there is, but we have to wait till book 2 to find out.
I personally will be waiting. You'd ask why I'd bother, since I already said how similar Alienated was to another book. Well, first - the story was strong and captivating; second - the characters were realistic and I just want to bathe in their presence again; three - I don't want to be hung up and not know what happened with Cara and Aelyx, aka alien boy.
I know I've stretched this review a bit, but I still have to talk characters. So, here goes:
Cara was the school valedictorian. Being a salutatorian myself, I've got an idea what she had to go through to earn her place as #1 student. Well, if it weren't tough then anyone could do it, right? Which makes Cara a tough girl. At least where school is concerned. But when her perfectly planned future is blown to bits by the news that she's to house an alien, everything goes to the dumpster. Her boyfriend breaks up with her. Her best friend abandons her. And a large part of the population hates her. People wait for her so they could show their fear of the aliens, no matter that she didn't choose this. But in the midst of it all, she has the strength to blog about Aelyx, his experiences on Earth, the horrible food he's made to eat, the vibrancy of Earth's colors that disrupt his senses. And she has the strength to make it easy on him. I honestly liked her character, even though she was a bit naive at times.
Aelyx was this cute boy sent to a foreign planet to negotiate a deal of mutual benefit with the humans. Except, he had a hidden agenda. Because he didn't have anything to do with Earth and its inhabitants. In fact, he was so against any relations with those savages, he was fully prepared to sabotage the mission. Unfortunately, Cara, the human he was sent to live with, was not who he thought she would be. She was gentle, she was strong, she tried to please him in ways he couldn't understand. She genuinely cared about him, and that scared him. Because the feelings she was stirring inside his heart were not what he'd hoped to find on this evolution-forsaken planet.
I liked how Cara's parents were all supportive of Aelyx, even when the humans started going berserk. And I could understand Cara's ex-friends to a point too.
In conclusion, Alienated was a cute book, exploring the depths of human fear, love and friendship. It was fast-paced and quick to read.
My rating is