Series: Alienated #2
Published by Disney-Hyperion on February 3, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Sci-fi
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?
Diversity: 1 – Tokenism
Racial-Ethnic: 1 (Tori remains the token Latina friend, complete with occasional Spanish)
Disability: 1 (Aelyx’s bodyguard and friend has an unspecified disease he gives himself injections for)
One of the perks of being a book reviewer is that, if you choose to pursue review copies, you can read a book a while before the general populace does. Downside: if there’s a sequel, there’s a good chance you’ll spend more time waiting for it than the general populace does.Still, the three years between me reading Alienated and me reading Invaded is entirely my fault. Once the TBR Jar spat its name out Goblet of Fire-style and I got into the book, I wondered why I hadn’t read it pre-jar system. It’s everything you could want in a sequel: complications and extensions of everything set up in the first book as well as the exploration of new ideas and places.
Whether looking at Invaded as a sequel or as its own book, it’s pretty good. Even though Alienated is three years in my reading past, I was never so confused that I needed a recap of what happened in that book. Landers achieved that sought-after middle ground between gently reminding readers what came before and jumping right into the story.
Now that they’re a galaxy away from one another, Aelyx and Cara have a chance to think about their relationship without the other’s presence clouding their minds with joy. The tense relations between their planets have even more serious consequences than they initially considered and their expected future together is put in peril. Even if Aelyx’s generation of clones didn’t despise Cara, the colony they’d hoped to live in would be so restrictive Cara refers to it as a prison; Aelyx is the victim of regular assassination attempts that range from a letter bomb to a near-poisoning. Amidst all this, they’re still talking to one another regularly. Readers won’t be bereft of interaction between them!
So yeah, neither wants to live on the other’s planet. It’s like a couple fighting over who moves into who’s home if they can’t afford to move into a completely-new-to-both-of-them home–except Aelyx and Cara don’t have the option to find a new-to-them planet to settle on. If one can’t find a way to be happy on the other’s planet, they’re done. Simple as that. Any teen relationship will be tested as it transitions into an adult relationship and these two experience exactly that.
And for once, I bucked my trend of shipping the heroine with the guy who seems to be into her! The hints at the end of Alienated that promised Jaxen, member of The Way, would spend plenty of time with/around Cara? They didn’t lie. He’s present throughout the book and still a bit too fascinated with Cara. It results in more than one creepy scene and the unraveling of a plot surrounding the strange little probes that have started crashing on L’eihr. The details of that plot line unravel so deliciously over the course of the book that I don’t want to discuss it!
Initially, Cara is entirely willing to accept L’eihr as her home. She’s so happy to have a future with Aelyx in the colony that she goes through a difficult-for-her ceremony that makes her a citizen of L’eihr! Sadly, she gives little thought to her friends and family on Earth when she’s deciding whether to go through with the ceremony–which is a Big Thing because it means she’ll never return to Earth. Nope, she’s all about Aelyx. Apparently, her parents getting a dog to keep them company while she and her brother are gone is enough to convince her they’ll be fine without her for the rest of their lives.
Readers get to enjoy a subplot about another developing human/L’eihr couple too: Aelyx’s fellow exchange student Syrine and their bodyguard David. I wasn’t all that into it, sadly. Maybe it’s just me and my queer-happy reading lately, but it also kinda bored me because it’s so sickeningly heterosexual? Knock up the levels of “forbidden” a few notches and give us a same-sex human/L’eihr couple!
Probably due in part to Disney’s choice not to published the final book in the Alienated series, Invaded concludes with both a feeling of satisfaction and plenty of loose ends. Of course, Landers put out the third book United herself and got it into bookstores, so this isn’t the end! If you’re happy with how things end here or you’re scared the “true” final book will ruin things for you, there’s no narrative pressure to read it. I haven’t heard anything bad about United, but I don’t know if I’ll properly finish Cara and Aelyx’s story. We’ll see!