by Melissa Landers
Disney-Hyperion, ISBN-10 1423170288, $16.99, February 2014
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.
Every time I see a human/(fill in blank with non-human entity) romance, I wonder if it’s the next hot trend. We had a human/alien romance (kind of) in The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey. Here’s a much more traditional romance setup also featuring an alien. Are aliens the new hot trend?
Speaking personally, I found this book awfully silly. The premise is okay, and the anti-alien mob mentality is realistic. Face it, even if aliens made peaceable contact, a large segment of society would freak out and start wielding the pitchforks. Where the book falls down is its central purpose, the romance. Aelyx is practically emotionless. Cara is passionate and competitive. Yes, that’s usually a great recipe for “spirited heroine breaks through hero’s cold exterior,” and that happens, but it happens so suddenly that I didn’t understand how Cara turned Aelyx around so fast. As far as I could tell, he thought she was really hot, he looked up Earth’s mating rituals, he got hot and bothered, and boom! Instalove. Plus, there’s this scene where they’re discussing the lovey customs of their individual planets and decide to try them out and compare. Cara teaches Aelyx to make out. Aelyx demonstrates how to stroke your mate while constantly monitoring their pulse. Um…not sexy. No.
It’s difficult as an adult to say what a teen readers en masse will or will not love. I think there’s an audience for this story among hardcore romance fans, but I don’t see it as the next Twilight. I’ve been wrong before, though!
Recommend to: Teen romance enthusiasts, fans of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Lux series
To buy or not to buy: Additional purchase.