Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: February 4th 2014 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Net Galley
Alienated is a story about exchange students only instead of countries, the students exchange not just planets but galaxies. Cara, the overachieving valedictorian of her school, is chosen to be the host for an alien student of the L’eihr species who are physically mostly identical to humans except for missing parts like belly buttons. Only, humans being the ever loving accepting creatures they are (we are?) are not quite happy about this exchange occurring. So Cara gets ditched by her boyfriend and her best friend who, to give her credit, tries to stick with her but Cara is not winning any best friend awards anytime soon and pretty soon. Everyone is telling Cara that these L’eihr are up to no good but of course Cara demurs insisting that she knows the alien better and he is not a bad person. Er, being. Only, of course, truth is a bit more complicated than that. Add to the mix the attraction between the two and things get nicely complicated.
There is tension, conflict and some sass. I like the sass. I also like the attention Landers spends on creating the aliens so that they do seem non-human in their thoughts, reactions, interests and likes/dislikes. I honestly could have done without the romance but this is a YA novel, it wouldn’t sell without one. I did wonder how the protestors were able to get so violent with the military getting involved. Because it didn’t reflect well at all on the lawmakers and peacemakers. I understand protests and stuff but mob mentality is a temporary thing, it does not persist for so long without consequences and if the higher-ups wanted, they could have easily, if not defused, then brought the situation under control using appropriate measures. It just made me question the logic of the novel.
I liked the pacing and the characterization to a certain extent though things did start getting cheesy at the end. The alien being who showed no anger and didn’t hold a grudge even when it would have made sense if she did and the alien who did show grudge but was too flat a character to contribute much else to the narrative. The denouement also felt weak and a bit contrived though I let myself be persuaded by it. I just don’t think that politics at the universal scale would require someone like a teenager to be debating the issues. This is serious stuff and while I understand the point of increasing the stakes and having the protagonist be so crucial, it just didn’t make sense to me.
Those who don’t mind things like this or who don’t question logic like this, will be able to read the book and enjoy it far more than I did.