Series: Alienated #2
Published by Disney Hyperion on February 3, 2015
Genres: science fiction
Pages: 356 pages
Amazon • Indiebound • Barnes & Noble • Goodreads
Cara always knew life on planet L'eihr would be an adjustment. With Aelyx, her L'eihr boyfriend, back on Earth, working to mend the broken alliance between their two planets, Cara is left to fend for herself at a new school, surrounded by hostile alien clones. Even the weird dorm pet hates her.
Things look up when Cara is appointed as human representative to a panel preparing for a human colony on L'eihr. A society melding their two cultures is a place where Cara and Aelyx could one day make a life together. But with L'eihr leaders balking at granting even the most basic freedoms, Cara begins to wonder if she could ever be happy on this planet, even with Aelyx by her side.
Meanwhile, on Earth, Aelyx, finds himself thrown into a full-scale PR campaign to improve human-L'eihr relations. Humans don't know that their very survival depends on this alliance: only Aelyx's people have the technology to fix the deadly contamination in the global water supply that human governments are hiding. Yet despite their upper hand, the leaders of his world suddenly seem desperate to get humans on their side, and hardly bat an eye at extremists' multiple attempts on Aelyx's life. The Way clearly needs humans' help but with what? And what will they ask for in return?
Welcome, fellow l’annabes. My name is Layla, and I will be your guide to the planet L’eihr (and the innermost workings of Cara Sweeney’s mind). To prepare for this journey, I want you to remember the following:
- Cara, our heroine, is fiery and passionate. You know this because she has red hair. Also, she is a woman.
- Aelyx, our hero, is logical and doesn’t totally get human emotions 100%. You know this because he is a man. (And an alien from a planet where they like … bred out human emotion because it is a weakness, do you hear me? A weakness! Don’t worry, they’re trying to fix it.)
- The L’eihr don’t believe in: feelings, compassion, humans not sucking.
- In this universe, it is totally realistic for one teenager to give up her life on Earth and decide to “build a life together” with her alien boyfriend on his alien planet. Don’t worry, the colonies will be lots of fun, Cara! They’ll definitely give you a way to get off the island, and yes, it’s an actual island. (Cara seems weirdly more concerned about whether or not she’ll be able to choose her own job, but guess what, it will not matter what job you have when shit goes down and you can’t get out of there! This is the thing you need to fight harder for!)
- If you’re receiving death threats and people are trying to kill you at every turn, just do what you do, man. Absolutely follow people into shady looking, isolated buildings. Oh, and: View Spoiler »Let your trustworthy security guard (who “forgets” to check your mail for bombs and your dinner for poison) lead the way. You already know his loyalty is compromised and yet you TRUST HIM ANYWAY, AELYX. YOU TRUST HIM ANYWAY. AUGH. « Hide Spoiler
- In space, no one can hear you scream at your copy of Invaded.
I was really excited to pick up a copy of Melissa Landers’s sequel to Alienated, Invaded, at NCTE this year. I have a kind of love-hate relationship with Alienated (reviewed here last year at The Midnight Garden, and here by me on GoodReads). I had quite a few issues with it – among them, sexism, world-building that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, and the name “Cahhhh-raaaa.” (For some reason, Cara’s name is the only English word Aelyx’s alien mouth can’t quiiiiiite make sense of.)
But I wanted to read Invaded anyway – I was genuinely curious about what L’eihr would be like.
Turns out it is a lot like a snobby boarding school where some of your classmates maybe try to control you with their minds. And are constantly trying to sabotage you. And where you will also declare your allegiance to your new home, L’eihr, by getting naked and having your classmates drip mud on you. Don’t feel scandalized, or anything – they don’t. (Because they don’t have feelings). Also, you have to work out all the time, but this is a good thing because when you get back to Earth, all of your friends will be so super jealous. (That … actually happens, and made me want to punch things.)
So. Good things about this book: it’s really funny in places (say what you will about me as a reader, but any charming anecdotes about pets in books will make me forget what I’m reading and go “d’awww” for a brief fragile moment); I liked Cara more in this book than in the last and liked getting a clearer picture of her relationship with her brother, who is much more present in this book (that was very sweet); I laughed at Cara’s blogs! And also the scene where she tells L’eihr children the story of Hansel and Gretel. Last, but not least, I am pretty curious about where the next book will go. Not necessarily with regards to Cara and Aelyx’s relationship, which still feels lukewarm to me, but with regards to the L’eihr / Earth backstory. View Spoiler » I’m really interested in this as yet un-encountered alien race that basically treats every planet like a petri dish and experiments with the lifeforms therein. I like the idea that both L’eihr and Earth are both an ALIEN SCIENCE EXPERIMENT. Seriously, legit interested, will read the next book just because of this! « Hide Spoiler
Things I did not like about this book: I mean, parts of the world-building still make me feel like I have to seriously suspend my disbelief in places. I still don’t really buy the “L’eihr! Totally passionless!” thing, because obviously both the Elders and the newer clones do feel strong emotions. The logic = L’eihr / emotions = Earth thing feels like a false dichotomy to me. We see both sides being swayed by both logic and passion! Bah.
Additionally, Cara’s emotional development didn’t always make sense to me. She seems pretty unhappy on L’eihr and becomes, over the novel, fairly committed to a particular course of action. (One that makes a lot of sense. View Spoiler » Because it does not involve moving to a totally different planet with your alien boyfriend when your relationship could still really, really use some help with basic communication. « Hide Spoiler) But … she changes her mind pretty much within 24 hours of returning to Earth, and for reasons that are not all that compelling. This seems like an unlikely thing for Cara to decide to do after she has been thinking one thing FOR MONTHS, and, I don’t know, it gets resolved way too smoothly to me. It made the initial conflict feel false – like it’d been set up just because the novel needed a source of conflict (i.e., a reason for Cara and Aelyx to not immediately jump into bed together upon reuniting).
To be honest, I felt like this was the case with much of the conflict in the novel (i.e., that it was conflict for conflict’s sake rather than … anything that actually made sense). The multiple death threats that Aelyx encounters made me absolutely batty. Like, it is possible that Aelyx has not seen enough suspense movies (and that’s okay, he’s from L’eihr). But don’t go randomly investigate things! Don’t trust people who are obviously already compromised! Don’t go into dark, spooky buildings. Maybe never open your mail unless you are sure bomb-sniffing dogs have sniffed it first. (And like, this may just be me, it’s totally cool if you were down with all of the action and drama – for me, it wasn’t really emotionally compelling and I found myself getting hugely frustrated as a result.)
And last, but not least, I found the novel’s tone to be inappropriate in places. It’s light and humorous most of the time, but sometimes that just didn’t work for me. When Cara’s worried that she’s just been View Spoiler » slipped a roofie, she thinks, “After all the years she’d waited for the right time to play her v-card, she was going to lose it to a creeper like Jaxen?” And, ahhhh, that just felt weirdly flippant to me. She’s been roofied by an ominous stranger who has been waiting to get her alone the entire book! This is freaking terrifying. Another uncomfortable quote from Cara: “As in I’ma disrobe you, then I’ma probe you?” … I could not deal. « Hide Spoiler
In closing, I will say that I liked Invaded way more than I liked Alienated. It’s a bit like a parody of itself – goofy adventures in space! Which I can be on board with. But mostly, for me, this is because Aelyx and Cara are (mostly) blissfully separated from each other, and – given that they are teenagers who have decided to move to Aelyx’s home planet to start a life together – I think space is a good thing for them. Lots of space. Outer space, even.
In short: I’m still oddly fascinated with this series (and like Cara, have so many fiery passionate human feelings about it!), even though it frustrates the heck out of me. And, last but not least, the cover’s still white-washed. Get on that, Disney Hyperion folks. Let’s make it happen for Book #3.
Did you read Invaded? Did you like it?
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.