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Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn't afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public just ask her embarrassed kids. She lives outside Cincinnati in the small town of Milford Ohio, where she writes romantic space adventures for teens and the young at heart.
Interstellar relations heat up in this start to a new romantic sf series. When valedictorian Cara is selected to host one of the first aliens in the new human-L'eihr student-exchange program, it seems like everything is working in her favor, especially when she gets to meet berhot alien Aelyx. While Cara anticipates resistance to the aliens from the residents of her small town, she isn't prepared for full-on xenophobia from the entire community. Personal threats and violent protests leave Cara and Aelyx shaken, but revelations about ulterior motives of the L'eihr students and their government have Cara wondering if perhaps she has been a bit too trusting. Landers successfully uses the familiar forbidden-romance plot as a means for exploring larger social, ecological, and ethical issues in this tense, fast-paced read. Cara and Aelyx are appealing characters with plenty of chemistry, and the secondary characters, while not fully developed, create realistic teen drama. Although the book ends on a satisfactory note, several unresolved plot lines and newly introduced characters ensure an exciting second volume. - Summer Hayes Booklist" As one of three high school students chosen to host an alien exchange student from the planet L'eihr, seventeen-year-old Cara must spend the next school year helping her visitor fit in with her family, her friends, and worst, her narrowminded community. L'eihrian Aelyx is not only uneasy about staying with the human Cara and her family, he questions the wisdom of the entire alliance between their two planets, even plotting to join his fellow exchange students in undermining it. Even as their plans to create a rift in human-alien relations go forward, though, Aelyx finds himself increasingly drawn to his hostess. Soon their growing friendship and romance come under attack from those who fear the alien visitors, and by the time Aelyx ditches his plans in hopes of a future with Cara, it may be too late to save any of them, and the Earth itself could be doomed. This emotionally driven, romance-heavy science fiction novel offers a thought-provoking take on a familiar story of integration. Told from the viewpoints of the two young people, the initially separate narrative strands become increasingly intertwined as the two grow closer, and the eventual romance provides plenty of heart-stopping moments. The conflict over human-alien relations follows convention but still manages to raise interesting questions about the value of forcing an alliance between uncooperative parties, and Cara and Aelyx's debates over their differences will give readers plenty of food for thought about a variety of scientific issues. Fans of Douglas' After Eden (BCCB 1/14) or Kaufman and Spooner's These Broken Stars (BCCB 2/14), who like their star-crossed lovers served up with a side of sci-fi, will find this satisfying and relish the possibility of sequels. AM BCCB" 4Q 4P J S High school valedictorian, Cara Sweeney, is selected to host an alien exchange student from the planet L'eihr. This intergalactic program is the first of its kind and it is being promoted to encourage a partnership, after contact between the two planets had been established two years ago. Cara is offered a scholarship initiative to make this alliance work, to allow the L'eihr student to shadow her in her studies and help him understand life on Earth-and eventually make the journey to his planet and live there. Reluctantly, Cara agrees to the arrangement feeling that, as a budding journalist, her blog following will soar and she may even be able to procure a book deal out of her experiences. Aelyx may have identical DNA to humans but he lacks emotion and as he is thrust into the Sweeney home, he soon realizes that he is ill equipped to deal with the typical American family. Although intrigued by Cara, his ulterior motive for wanting to be a part of this program is what fuels him to integrate with his host family. As Cara and Aelyx begin to get acquainted, tensions rise as Anti-L'eihr Alliance paranoia jeopardizes their safety, alienating them from normal. Cara and Aelyx unify; however, the secret that Aelyx has been harboring may end up compromising much more than their relationship. Cara must make a choice to save her planet, or her star- crossed lover. The author's storyline is out of this world and character development paired with authentic voice is superb. She has created both strong male and female characters, and is able to also keep their individual integrity throughout the building of her romance and ultimate conflict. Each world is believable and detailed in its description, and the political implications of the alliance are also well thought-out. Filled with intrigue and suspense, this book will appeal to both sci-fi and contemporary YA fiction fans. Susan Redman-Parodi. VOYA" High school senior Cara Sweeney needs a good scholarship to attend college. When her family is chosen to host an interplanetary exchange student, she will get full tuition to any college. As Cara and Aelyx, the exchange student, grow closer, Humans Against L'eihr Occupation begin staging protests, hoping to upset the alliance between Earth and L'eihr. Fearing for their lives, Aelyx and Cara flee Earth. Cara discovers that Aelyx and other exchange students have tried to sabotage the Earth alliance by poisoning crops. As punishment, Aelyx and another exchange student must return to Earth to repair the damage they have caused. This is the first book in a new series. The unusual plot and world building are ingenious. The novel is extremely character-driven, and the two main characters are strong and likable. There are some romance scenes between the two that will leave readers breathless. Sherry Thompson, Library Media Specialist, Flower Mound (Texas) High School Highly Recommended Library Media Connection" A charming if lightweight science-fiction romance bogs down when it attempts to convey moral lessons. High school senior Cara Sweeny plans on being the best at everything-schoolwork, debate, life. These ambitions earn her the ambiguous honor of hosting one of the first "exchange students" from the L'eihrs, the aliens who have just initiated contact with Earth. But while Aelyx might be completely human-looking (and a total hottie), he's also cold and arrogant, with a major hatred for all of humanity. The alternating viewpoints convey their personalities well: Cara's is breezy and chatty and studded with slightly dated slang; Aelyx's more formal, occasionally gloomy and often bewildered. Although there seems little beyond raging hormones to inspire their intense devotion, the romantic shenanigans are entertaining until overshadowed by the heavy-handed, simplistic message that prejudice is wrong-a moral somewhat undercut by the reliance upon such stereotypes as the temperamental redhead, the bigoted jock and the vivacious Latina who sprinkles her conversations with Spanish obscenities. Once the tone abruptly shifts to science-fiction thriller, the willing suspension of disbelief snaps under the weight of unbelievable behavior, nonsensical science and a "happy ending" with profoundly disturbing implications. It's still rather fun in an after-school special sort of way, but hardly an essential purchase or read. (Science fiction. 12-18) Kirkus" Gr 9 Up In Alienated, Cara Sweeney, high school overachiever and class valedictorian, has been selected to host the first L'eihr exchange student. Initial excitement and pride are quickly overshadowed by doubt and unease upon meeting the alien Aelyx. Although almost genetically identical, the two cultures are as different as night and day and the level of discomfort is evident. Further complicating matters is anti-alien paranoia and violence directed not only at Aelyx and the other exchange students, but also at Cara and her family. Drawn together due to circumstance, the teens start falling for each other. In Invaded, the couple continues to try to forge an alliance between the two planets, as mutual survival of both populations are depending on it. Amid hate and an unknown future, Cara must decide between love, the unknown, and the future she always dreamed of having. Excellent character development and a nice integration between modern reality and science fiction drive the plot in a satisfying story arc. Continuation of the story line is seamless between series installments, giving readers a continued interest in and connection to the protagonists. Themes of racism and environmentalism are integral to understanding and developing the emotional level of the story as well as the momentum of the plot. Teens will be rooting for the galactic couple while enjoying the action and suspense that runs through the two volumes. A fun pick for fans of sci-fi with a bit of romance. Elizabeth Speer, Cisco College, TX SLJ"