Book Review: Invaded

cover-invadedTitle: Invaded [Alienated 2]

Author: Melissa Landers

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

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?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed Invaded by Melissa Landers—though not for the same reasons I loved the previous book in the series, Alienated. Where Alienated was fun and centered mostly around the romance between Cara and Aelyx, Invaded took things to a whole other level. The book was fast-paced, filled with political drama and danger, and although the romance between Cara and Aelyx was present, it took a back seat to the rest of the plot. For the majority of the book, the couple was apart, and in the absence of their relationship, the complex plot began to shine.

As with the previous book, the world building, and character development was outstanding. I found Cara and her bubbly and sometimes sarcastic personality, less annoying this time around, and I’ll hand it to the girl—she really stepped things up. The plot threw everything it could at Cara, it isolated her, threw death plots at her, and tried to frame her for every crime under the sun, but Cara held her own and pulled herself through despite having almost no one to rely on. There were twists and turns I didn’t see coming (and a few I did), and I couldn’t help but be drawn into the story.

As for the technical side of things, the book was well written. I didn’t stumble over awkward phrases or pacing problems. There were no noticeable typos or grammar blunders. I was sucked into the story from the very first page and wasn’t let go until the very last.

There will probably be some readers who don’t appreciate this book as much as I did. I’m sure they’ll go into this book expecting it to mimic the light-hearted heavy-romance theme of the first book, and they’ll be disappointed. Personally, I love this book for entirely different reasons than I loved the first book. Where I loved the first book for its romance and clever but understated science fiction theme, I loved Invaded for it’s complexity, danger, and drama. The book was equally fantastic, just for different reasons.

Overall, I enjoyed Invaded, and I’m excited to see if there will be a third book in the series anytime soon (please, oh please). If you like science fiction, YA, or romance, and you don’t want to be bogged down with a ton of science terminology, you’ll love this series. I highly recommend it. The book is perfect for pre-teens on up… the romance, while steamy, is clean—there are no graphic sex scenes, and I’d be perfectly fine handing this book to my pre-teen daughter. I’m looking forward to more by this author—this entire series is going on my keeper shelf.

Book Review: Alienated

cover-alienatedTitle: Alienated [Alienated 1]

Author: Melissa Landers

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

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.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

To be honest, I went into this book thinking this was going to be another mediocre, but entertaining enough YA Romance—I’ve run into quite a few of those lately—but I was wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed Alienated by Melissa Landers. The book centered around the friendship and eventual romance between two teens, one Human, one L’eihr (alien!) as they work together as part of a foreign-exchange program between the two species.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. The narrative was easy to follow, well paced, and error-free. The story was told from the viewpoints of both Cara and Aelyx, and I was grateful for the contrast. It was fun to see how their social norms clashed, and how though they were very different on many levels, deep down they were the same… just two teens trying to do their best and wrestling with their innate loyalty between their species and each other.

I adored the romance between Cara and Aelyx. It was rocky and understated at first, but in the end it was passionate and steamy without crossing the line into adult territory. I think the author handled the romance well, and despite how passionate it got between the two, I’d have no problem letting my pre-teen pick this up. It was nice to read a teen romance that didn’t rely too heavily on the trope of misunderstandings to drive the conflict of the relationship forward.

There were a few things I wish had been handled perhaps a little differently—but they aren’t major plot points. The first was the relationship between Cara and her friends. In this day and age with a generation that I’d like to think is mostly open to diversity and differences between people, I find it a little hard to believe, and perhaps a little tragic, that not a single one of Cara’s friends stuck by her throughout the foreign exchange period. I’d expected, if nothing else, for Cara’s best friend to stay by her side—though I understand that maybe the title of the book was purposefully a little literal in this sense.

The second point of contention I had was with Cara’s disturbing ability to Mind-speak with Aelyx when it was obvious that no one else could. This seemed like a major breakthrough, and I’d expected that at some point the teens would bring it up with an adult, but they never did. Right up until the very end, no one outside of the couple had any inkling that the two could share what was essentially a L’eihr-only ability. It felt unresolved, almost forgotten in the context of the story.

Overall? I Loved the book. I’m super-excited to delve into the rest of the series. The book had just enough sci-fi to keep things interesting without getting bogged down by technical jargon and science theories. The romance felt genuine and appropriate, and the plot was entertaining. If you’re looking for a fun, sci-fi themed ya romance that isn’t going to make you memorize a bunch of technical jargon, I’d encourage you to give this book a chance.