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To be completely honest, Alienated was a very surprising read. I was expecting hardcore science fiction that was mildly altered to suit young adult tastes with a bit of romance here and there, but it turned out to be the opposite. It's a fluffy read of two students from two different worlds, one from Earth and one from another galaxy hundreds, probably thousands of light years away, as they learn from each other's cultures and endure the widening protest and violence against the two civilization's mingling of each other. So it has a lot of fluff, a lot of politics, and a lot of science fiction. And you know what else? I LOVED IT!
The plot is actually pretty simple. Aelyx (pronounced A-licks) and two of his friends, Syrine and Eron, are to be sent to Earth in a sort of student exchange, a move that hopes to strengthen the relationship of the two planets. However, the trio has other plans, as they don't want their home to be influenced by the violence and discord human societies have showcased in their history, so they plan to sabotage everything. He later meets Cara, a human with a passionate and gentle heart and a fiery spirit, and she could just be the key to weakening Aelyx's resolve.
It may seem really cliché and worn-out due to the premise being written a hundred times in other novels, but reading this book, you'll find yourself grinning to yourself anyway, because the book's strongest point isn't the plot – it's the development between Cara and Aelyx as they learn more about each other. I swear, I laughed, I cried, and I grinned like a mad lunatic. It was so funny to read the alien guy being wary of human customs, of their food, of their sexual advances, of his OWN sexual reactions (to which he would try to recite the human periodic table afterwards... haha!!)... it felt like a learning experience for me, too. Aelyx was an adorable character, and even though as a reader you know he has other agendas, you kind of understand the reasons why he was willing to do what he planned (and honestly, if I were an alien from outer space, I wouldn't bother with humans, too. We're complicated beings =P).
As much as it was heartwarming, there were heartrending scenes too, in which I couldn't help but tear up a bit. There is a political backdrop here as many people are not keen on having aliens in their midst, and it results to a lot of betrayal and violence, and these take a toll on Cara. My heart swelled and my throat tightened whenever she would put her head up high despite all the bad things happening to her, and even more when Aelyx saw all of these and blamed himself for it. Sigh. If there's anything this book was, it was one hell of a roller coaster ride. I felt so connected to the characters that I could feel the emotions overflowing from the pages. Such a spectacular novel, this one.
All in all, this was a great read, and would be an excellent introduction to the science fiction genre to others out there who are hesitant to try it. It's full of heart and emotions, and a lot of scenes that would make you laugh, cry, and sweat (that making out scene was HOT, BABY!). 2014 will be a great year if all books are of this calibre!