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Book Review: United by Melissa Landers

United by Melissa Landers

Title: United

Author: Melissa Landers

Series: Alienated #3

Genre: Teen Science Fiction

Rating: 2/5 stars

The Overview: After thwarting a deadly coup and saving the alliance between their worlds, Cara and Aelyx have finally earned a break. Their tiny island colony is everything they dreamed it would be―days spent gathering shells on the beach and nights in each other’s arms. But the vacation is short-lived. The treaty between Earth and L’eihr has awakened an ancient force that threatens to destroy them all. The Aribol, mysterious guardians charged with maintaining interstellar peace, deem the alliance a threat to the galaxy. They order a separation of the races, decreeing humans and L’eihrs must return to their own planets within the month or face extinction. In fact, they already have agents in place on Earth, ready to begin… -Goodreads

The Review:

Alienated has to be one of my favorite YA books. It was sweet, charming, creative, funny, and an all-around feel-good story (imagine if Rory Gilmore hosted an alien exchange student – delightful, right?). Invaded was just as good, and I honestly wish the wait hadn’t been so long between it and United, as it kind of stole my momentum and excitement (that’s what I get for hounding for early copies, I suppose). At any rate, while United was an enjoyable end to the series, it didn’t blow me away quite like its predecessors.

Some of the things I found charming in the first two books struck me as a bit silly in United. I imagine a lot of that had to do with the fact that United was the only one I listen to on audio. The narrator made the aliens sound unintelligent and immature, which sapped a lot of my enjoyment from the story. “Cheesy” is the word I’m searching for. It was cheesy.

There were also a lot of things I accepted in the first two books that didn’t work for me in the third. The idea that a teenage girl could have so much political power and all of the government resources of earth took a backseat while her and her boyfriend fought an earth annihilation threat by themselves was… stupid. It screamed YA logic like crazy and left me feeling disappointed (and old).

Perhaps I’m just cynical. And perhaps I’m a little burnt out on YA in general. I’ve definitely been craving the more robust storytelling of adult novels lately. It certainly doesn’t help matters that I just finished Corey’s Babylon’s Ashes – a killer space opera series with loads of politics and moving parts (also one of the best series I’ve ever read). No, I’m sure that didn’t help at all.

The positive take away from United was how much I liked the sweet romance that blossomed throughout the trilogy between two really great main characters. Aside from the weird circumstances surrounding my experience with United, I still am a fan of Melissa Landers as an author and I’m looking forward to diving into her Starflight duology. Overall, if you like YA science fiction at all, Alienated is a must-read.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Mini Book Review: Invaded by Melissa Landers

Invaded by Melissa Landers

Title: Invaded

Author: Melissa Landers

Series: Alienated #2

Genre: Teen Science Fiction

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: The romantic sequel to Alienated takes long-distance relationships to a new level as Cara and Aelyx long for each other from opposite ends of the universe…until a threat to both their worlds reunites them. 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. 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?

The Mini Review:

After reading an advanced copy of Alienated in fall 2013, I knew it would be torture to wait for Invaded’s release in February 2015… and it was. I sent requests to the publisher, I stalked other book bloggers for potential giveaways, and tried (and failed) to make it to several book events where Melissa Landers was going to be. But it was all in vain, so I ended up waiting… and waiting… and waiting.

And after all that waiting, I am pleased to report that Invaded was well worth the wait. :-)

The first book was a lot like what I would imagine Rory Gilmore going through if she had to host a (hot) alien exchange student – loads of fun, plenty of quick wit, and a sweet love story. It was absolutely delightful – I loved it! And what I loved about the second book is that it took all of those charming elements and put them on Aelyx’s (i.e. the hot alien) home world, L’eihr. It was total cultural immersion into this different world, and I enjoyed exploring every bit of it. The only reason Invaded didn’t receive a total five-star rating is that I missed a bit of the romantic element (which is understandable considering our characters are on two different planets), but even that really wasn’t a big deal because the book was still highly entertaining without the love story being the primary focus.

Overall, Melissa Landers is my kind of author – she makes me fall in love with her characters, want to visit her world, and makes me laugh while doing it. I am definitely committed to read anything she publishes in the future (including her new book Startflight coming out this fall), but rest assured, the wait for the next Alienated book is already physically painful…

Until Midnight by Melissa Landers

Before picking up Invaded, I happily reimbursed myself in the story by reading this Alienated novella: Until Midnight. It had everything I loved about Alienated, all packed into a Christmas-themed short story. It provided a transition between the two novels that I felt was… much-needed is not quite the phrase, perhaps much-appreciated? It brought forth a conflict between Aelyx and another character regarding Cara that definitely added to my overall positive experience the story. My only gripe is that the conflict presented did not get completely represented afterwards in Invaded, but I loved it more for the sentimentality anyway. Also, since I read this novella right before Invaded, I discovered it supplemented some of the romance I mentioned missing from the sequel. Until Midnight is definitely worth your time if you’re a fan of the series.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Invaded by Melissa Landers

InvadedTitle: Invaded

Author: Melissa Landers

Series: Alienated #2

Genre: Teen Science Fiction

Release Date: February 3, 2015 (a.k.a. way too far away)

The Overview: The romantic sequel to Alienated takes long-distance relationships to a new level as Cara and Aelyx long for each other from opposite ends of the universe…until a threat to both their worlds reunites them. 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?

Invaded 2

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

I am so eager to pick up this second book, I can hardly stand it. Alienated was easily one of my best reads of 2013 and just might be among my all-time favorites. I loved the concept, the characters, the writing, the story, the everything! Just imagine if Rory Gilmore (I am a huge Gilmore Girls fan) was selected to host an alien exchange student… What’s not to love about that? Anyway, I think I’m most excited because I love where the story is headed and am eager to learn more about Aelyx’s people. If you haven’t read Alienated yet, you are missing out!

What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Alienated by Melissa Landers

AlienatedTitle: Alienated

Author: Melissa Landers

Series: Alienated #1

Genre: Teen Science Fiction

Release Dates: February 4, 2014

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: 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.

Alienated

The Review:

Even though I read this one as an ARC (thank you Netgalley), I liked it enough to preorder a hardcover copy for my collection. It was such a great read that the only thing I’m disappointed with is the fact that I have to wait more than a year to find out what happens next.

The premise for the story is what won me over right away. Just imagine if Rory Gilmore was picked to house an alien exchange student. Landers managed to find the perfect balance between sci-fi detail and high school drama. A concept like that could be quite silly if not done right, but luckily Alienated was presented perfectly. Furthermore, you could see within the first twenty pages how talented and thoughtful the author was. Certain elements that you see in other books were always taken one step further, elevating the story above the rest. So all these components were already adding up to a fantastic book then she goes and adds a dual perspective from the alien’s POV and I was in love!

The contrasting viewpoints between the two characters are really what made the novel special for me. They were both relatable characters with compelling motives. Cara, was an overachieving “attack everything with gusto” kind of girl, and it was fun to watch her perfectly structured world adjust to one surprise after another. Aelyx, on the other hand, was burdened with responsibility to do right by his people. He honestly would’ve been interesting to read about all on his own. I’ve read a few aliens-come-to-Earth novels where the aliens come across as a little stupid because they don’t always understand what’s going on. Aelyx, while not familiar with all the customs of the earth caught on to social cues quickly and came across as anything but stupid. It was something I really appreciated because it’s difficult to have a crush-worthy character that can’t hold his own in difficult situation. For both characters, it was a great emotional journey, with loads of internal conflict driving both of their actions. The funnest part of the book was watching them muster the strength and bravery to overcome those conflicts.

Overall, this is yet another contender for my favorite book of the year. We got to learn more about a fascinating alien culture while simultaneously appreciating the oddities of our own… It was a ball! This is one of the first teen science fictions I’ve read, and I have to say I’m loving this new trend. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in this series – I have a feeling it’s only going to get better from here!

Recommended Reading: for people who are interested in science fiction novels but are too intimidated by their length and technical jargon. It is also fabulous for anyone wanting a fun read with a delightful love story! I will be hand-selling this one to anyone who will listen when it comes out.

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by Niki Hawkes