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
I picked up this novel late at night, around 1am, because I couldn’t sleep and I planned to read until I was tired enough to go to bed. What ended up happening is a sleepless night for me as I tore through this novel, unable to put it down. The story of Cara and Aelyx was extremely intriguing, and I just adored it. It was awesome to see this alien planet and its people attempt to make an alliance with the Earth, and to see just how both the residents on L’eihr and Earth responded–especially because their thought process was similar: no.
From the get go readers know that neither the people of Earth nor Aelyx and his team want this alliance–the Earth is scared for its safety and the L’eihr’s are highly advanced beyond humans–so neither humans nor Aelyx and his team understand the purpose of an alliance. That being said, animosity and tension fills the story as Aelyx and his team come to earth in a good will gesture–staying for an exchange program that will end with Cara going to L’eihr with Aelyx for her own exchange program… should the alliance actually work.
The novel really takes a look at what would happen should aliens ever make contact—if they exist. And, it shows that even though we believe ourselves to be extremely advanced, should fear strike our hearts, we very well could have another civil rights movement on our hands. Aelyx is not welcome, and as tensions rise, so does the risk. It reminded me a lot of the Little Rock Nine as I read, with Aelyx going to school amid the picketers and violence, with the shunnings and threats against any who supported him. In truth, it shows just how bigoted a fearful nation can become when met with change.
Now, to be fair, Aelyx and his team are not innocent bystanders in this. With the truth hidden inside the government, a truth Aelyx doesn’t even know, he and his team are indeed trying to sabotage the alliance, but it’s not made clear how until the middle of the book, when other truths are made know. And when they are? Well, everything is put into perspective fairly quickly and we learn that nothing is as it seems… and, should the alliance fail, it means dire circumstances for not only earth, but also L’eihr as well.
Shrouded in mystery, this novel kept my attention from start to finish, and finish I did, right in time for my work alarm to begin blaring. It’s mysterious with a slow budding romance, and I really liked that all my questions were answered, especially when it came to the romance between Aelyx and Cara. As Aelyx points out many times, love is not really a part of his culture, but the way Landers weaves together the story and the hidden answers is perfect.
I adored this novel and can’t wait for the next installment, though I have some reservations about the newest character we meet at the very end, Jaxen–who I foresee becoming a problem for both Cara and Aelyx. Five amazing stars.
Disney-Hyperion has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on February 4, 2014.