Forget the little green men. For those who are hesitant to pick up this novel because of the dreaded "aliens" or "science fiction" genre, let me reassForget the little green men. For those who are hesitant to pick up this novel because of the dreaded "aliens" or "science fiction" genre, let me reassure you. Alienated is funny and at times reads almost like a contemporary teen novel. In addition to the humor there is also romance and suspense.
Cara is a very smart and spunky protagonist. Before the exchange program she isn't super popular but she does have a popular boyfriend and a best friend she cares about. She is her class valedictorian and a talented member of the debate team. Unfortunately once Aelyx arrives her popularity starts to plummet and even those she thought would stand beside her let her down.
Cara tries her best to make Aelyx feel at home even though his behavior is so reserved and different from what she is used to. Her boyfriend and best friend are against the whole exchange and soon Cara is ostracized because of Aelyx. The town takes sides with more and more people against Aelyx and the L'eihrs.
I liked how Cara was willing to fight for what she believed was right and not stoop to the level of her antagonists. Even though she went through some rough times and painful betrayals she stayed true to herself when it might have been so easy to give in and get her friends back. Her parents are also portrayed as positive and open minded though they do exhibit a lot of embarrassing PDA. It is obvious that Cara comes from a very caring family.
Aelyx at first seems like a jerk to Cara but she keeps reaching out to him and eventually they form a genuine friendship that leads to love even though they come from different worlds. Aelyx makes some bad decisions but he is motivated by how much he cares for the future of his own people even if he is misguided.
The way that Aelyx is treated by the community and school reminded me of the protests of desegregation in the 60s or the way immigrants have been treated with mistrust. The book explores how people have a tendency to react with fear to those they perceive as different. At the beginning of the book, HALO (the anti-L'eihr movement) is just an over the top fringe group but they keep growing in popularity and spreading their message of hate. It was sad to see all the hate and faulty thinking especially in the teens.
The science fiction aspect of this book isn't overpowering. Aelyx has a few devices that he uses and telepathic communication but mostly we just learn about cultural and planetary differences like his aversion to flavorful food and how L'eihr isn't a colorful place. I think the next book will have more of a science fiction feel as it is partially set on L'eihr but I think it will still be "science fiction lite".
Overall I thought this was an excellent book. I loved the characters and couldn't wait to see what happened next in Invaded. I think readers who enjoy teen contemporary fiction would also like this book because it isn't heavy on science fiction elements and it has action, some comedy, and romance....more
I think the best part of this book is the story of Carla Trujilio and her difficult life in Honduras and her struggle to make it to the U.S. where sheI think the best part of this book is the story of Carla Trujilio and her difficult life in Honduras and her struggle to make it to the U.S. where she hopes for a better life for her and her brother. The author does a good job of describing Carla's circumstances and her determination to survive and the horrors of her journey. I felt sympathy for her even though her plan involved breaking the law by illegally immigrating to the States. I wanted to see Carla make it and thrive. I wasn't sure how Alice's story would tie in with Carla's but I thought maybe Alice would take her in and help her.
Alice is a cancer survivor dealing with the sorrow of not being able to have a baby and an adoption that fell through. She has the opportunity to help mentor an inner-city teen which proves to be harder than she thought. I liked how she tried so hard to be there for Evian but I didn't like how she didn't really take her husband's feelings about it into account. She also loses sympathy points by how closed off she is about discussing the loss of the adopted baby with her husband. It's like she feels he doesn't need to grieve. The parts of the story about BBQ and the troubles of the school and community with gang violence kind of seemed to take away from the time that could have been devoted to Carla's story instead or to developing Alice's character more.
Compared to Carla, Alice's life is a walk in the park. The two separate narratives never fully merge into a story that works. Alice and Carla barely cross paths at the very end of the book which was disappointing for me as the description of the book suggests otherwise. Overall I liked this book but it could have been stronger without Alice's story. I would have liked to read more about Carla as she grows up and what her future holds.
For readers looking for more fiction about the immigrant experience, I would suggest The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez....more