Review: Alienated by Melissa Landers

Rating: 4 stars
Pub Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Genre: young adult, sci-fi, romance
Format/Source: ARC, TLA conference
Status: Book 1 of the Alienated series

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.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Alienated from the publisher at the TLA annual conference in exchange for an honest review.

I want to kick myself. I picked up Alienated in April 2013, but I waited all the way until January 2014 to read it. Guys, this book is SO GOOD. I love how well Melissa balances sci-fi elements with plenty of contemporary high-school-ness and lots of swoony romance.

First of all, I'm really impressed with Cara and Aelyx as our leads. They're so similar in some ways yet so different in others, and that makes for some truly spectacular tension, both of the romantic kind and other. They're both intelligent, like, actually intelligent, not just a false description thrown in there for the sake of it, and they're both ridiculously stubborn. Watching them open up to this new experience and become friends–and then...more–was truly my favorite part of the novel. Cara and Aelyx have really great chemistry, both as somewhat-rivals and then as friends and then romantically, and Melissa showed it off to great effect with brilliant dialogue, which you'll see below where I wrote out some of my favorite lines.

I also appreciated the supporting characters such as Cara's parents and brother (what little we see of him, anyway, but I have hope he'll play a bigger role in Invaded), her douche-tastic boyfriend-turned-ex Eric, her best friend Tori (who is one of the most infuriating characters to me, but she's well-written) and Aelyx's friends and co-exchange students Syrine and Eron. I love that all the characters are very well developed and so realistic. Nobody is all bad or all good. Even the L'eihrs are characters I could see as real people in real life.Everyone isn't always on the same page, but they all have clear, believable motivations behind their actions (except for the protestors, who are just D-U-M DUM [that's misspelled on purpose, just fyi]).

As I said above, the story is incredibly balanced and the science is utterly believable. Even if it's made up, Melissa made me believe it. I love that it's not too science-y or too contemporary. She hits the sweet spot between science fiction, real life in high school, and an adolescent romance (even if it is between a human girl and a ridiculously attractive alien boy). I like the presence of the protestors and the anti-L'eihr movement. Sure, those people are prejudiced idiots, but honestly, they're just scared (and they kinda have a right to be, as you'll see in the book, because REASONS). Again, this is an element that lends credibility to the story. We as humans don't have a good track record being accepting and welcoming to people, as evidenced by the Civil Rights Movement and the current social hot topic of LGBT rights across the globe. Also, the plot of Alienated evolves incredibly well from one conflict to another, and it's really exciting to read!

Alienated is a realistic and creative sci-fi romance that had me hooked from the beginning. I love the characters, love the story, and love the romance. I didn't say too much about it, but whoa, Cara and Aelyx... Yeah. You just gotta read it. I highly recommend this new series that has shades of brilliance reminiscent of Beth Revis's Across the Universe and Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner's These Broken Stars. Currently, Melissa only has a deal for Alienated and the sequel Invaded but if things go well enough, there is potential for me. Trust me, you're gonna want more. I know I do!

Favorite lines:
"I don't see the problem. The fact that you purchased an inferior gift hardly seems like any failing on my part. It's common knowledge that shiny rocks are preferred among human females." (If I had been drinking anything while reading this line, I would have spit it all over the book, I laughed so hard.)

To hell with cutting carbs. Life was too short for that nonsense. (Preach.)

He clicked a search engine icon, then typed the words how to and paused, considering what to query. Before he'd decided between cheer someone up and mend a broken heart, the search engine suggested how to kiss, how to make out, how to make love, and how to boil an egg. Sexual reproduction and food–humans' two favorite subjects. (Lololololololol. Truest statement ever.)

And a serious one: "How can we understand what we've never experienced and adapt without making mistakes?"

There's another one, but it's slightly spoiler-y and more than just a couple lines. Hard to describe. Just look for someone munching on popcorn. Oh, and the swoony parts are sooooo good, but you'll also have to look them up yourself. ;) I can't give away ALL the good parts!

Book Links:

 A word from Melissa & a giveaway:

Hey, fiction lovers. I’m author Melissa Landers, and I’m thrilled to announce that my debut YA sci-fi romance, ALIENATED, is finally available from Disney-Hyperion! Cue the dancers and toss the confetti, because it’s been a long wait!

In a nutshell, ALIENATED is the story of valedictorian Cara Sweeney, who gets more than she bargained for when she agrees to host the nation’s first intergalactic exchange student, the gorgeous but emotionally-stilted Aelyx (pronounced A-licks) from planet L’eihr. The tone is light and humorous, but I explore some deeper themes as well.

What do reviewers have to say?

“The storyline is out of this world and character development paired with authentic voice is superb. Filled with intrigue and suspense, this book will appeal to both sci-fi and contemporary YA fiction fans." –VOYA

“Interstellar relations heat up in this start to a new romantic science fiction series. Landers [explores] larger social, ecological, and ethical issues in this tense, fast-paced read.” –Booklist

“The perfect blend of sizzling romance, action, and suspense.” –#1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout

“Smart, funny, and epic. I am now awaiting contact from planet L’eihr.” Julie Cross, bestselling author of Tempest.

“Intergalactic exchange students? Yes, please! I fell in love with this story and couldn’t put it down.” Jodi Meadows, author of Incarnate.

If you like hot, swoony science fiction as much as I do, I hope you’ll give ALIENATED a try. It’s now available in stores and online.

To celebrate my book birthday, I’m offering one lucky winner a Nook Simple Touch. I’ll even throw in a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble so you can fill your new e-reader with whatever you want!

Now for the fine print: This giveaway is open to US residents only. (Sorry, international friends, but you need a US billing address to buy digital content on the Nook.) Due to sweepstakes laws, entrants must be 18 years or older to participate.

Best of luck, and happy reading!

About the Author:
Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her husband and three kids. She lives just outside Cincinnati in the small town of Loveland, "Sweetheart of Ohio" and writes adult contemporary romance as Macy Beckett. For more information, or just to say hello, visit

Author Links:

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  1. I agree this one was a fun read that went into a more serious realm than I expected upon reading the summary. I was so excited for the new take on alien relations and am excited for the next installment. Great review!

  2. I have had this book on my TBR list for a while. I'm happy to see you enjoyed it. Great review!!

  3. I have to admit that I'm tempted to read this because of the beautiful cover alone (how fickle is that?). "Sexual reproduction and food–humans' two favorite subjects." Sounds like a funny one, too. Great review!