Happy Saturday, Reading Nook!
Today, I'm proud to review Invaded by Melissa Landers.
It's the second book in the Alienated series, and I'm going to tell you right off the bat: it's JUST as awesome as the first.
There's just the right amount of Cara, Aelyx and intrigue, and you're definitely going to want to get your hands on this book ASAP.
Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: February 3rd 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
Format read: ARC via publisher
With Cara struggling to fit in with unwelcoming natives through her exchange program on L'eihr, and Aelyx continuing to work towards achieving an alliance in an unfriendly political climate, there's enough drama, intrigue and romance in Landers' sophomore novel to intrigue readers of any age.
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?
Fortunately for me, Disney kindly provided me with an ARC!
Things that worked:
Much like Alienated, the writing in Invaded flies off of the page from the very start. Landers writes with a seasoned storyteller's confidence, pulling us back into the Cara and Aelyx's world immediately following the events of Until Midnight.
She continues to alternate between Cara and Aelyx’s voices in each chapter through third-person limited. But because we're already familiar with their personalities and backgrounds, Landers digs deeper into the fundamental question of what makes up Cara and Aelyx's fundamental selves. We find out how Cara and Aelyx cope with their separation, and just how they adjust to being in alien environments.
With each interaction - whether positive or negative - it becomes easier to see just why Cara and Aelyx are the key to making the alliance work. And this is absolutely a credit to the strength of Landers' writing.
Landers had a far more difficult task with world-building this time around. Whereas Alienated gave us hints of what L'eihr was like, she actually had to show us the planet and its day-to-day life in Invaded.
She does a great job, creating a society that is similar to Earth, but is also very clearly alien in origin. Readers will undoubtedly enjoy some of the more intriguing (and bizarre) rituals that Cara undergoes and witnesses while also recognizing that there are some positives to the L'eihr way of life - e.g. healthy eating.
The romance angle
After the events of Alienated and Until Midnight, Cara and Aelyx have been established as a pretty rock-solid couple. However, even as they continue to develop their relationship, Landers is careful to recognize that not everything is going to be perfect between the two of them.
They both have to work through a lot of individual issues, including just what they're willing to give up in the name of their relationship. Cara, in particular, has a lot of challenges on L'eihr, which leave her wondering whether she can give everything up to live in a far-off planet.
Every question that Landers asks is smart and realistic, and I can easily see teens recognizing some of the challenges and questions that they themselves face on a daily basis.
The familial relationships
While the crux of Invaded is very much about Cara and Aelyx's relationship and its impact on the Alliance, Landers also does a fine job of showing just how Cara's family and Aelyx's (slightly more untraditional) family adjust to their new lives.
There's a lot to be said in terms of how both Cara and Aelyx's opinions of their family change for the better and the worse, along with their understanding of how their families relate to them. Without giving any spoilers away, Landers does a great job of exploring that transitional feeling that many experience when they're transitioning to adulthood.
The deeper issues
Like Alienated, Landers does a fine job of incorporating current socio-economic issues into the fictional climate of Earth and L'eihr.
She intelligently shows how individuals can be persuaded to behave in out-of-character and dangerous ways over fear of things unknown, and how it's never an easy journey to alleviate those fears. Similarly, she also shows what it's like being
However, it's Landers' recognition that travel and exposure to places dissimilar to your own home, can change you forever, which really moved me. Cara and Aelyx are both impacted by their time spent in foreign climates, and it's how they react and feel in relation to their homes, which really gives readers a lot to consider.
Landers writes one hell of an ending, with a cliff-hanger that opens up a world of possibility for Cara, Aelyx and the Alliance. I can only hope that we get to see where she decides to take everything in a third book!
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
However, I can see some readers potentially having issue with Cara's decision-making process in the latter half of the book. Without giving spoilers away, she does change her mind on a fairly significant issue quickly. But I also think that Landers realistically depicts a challenging situation, and how Cara chooses to respond to it.
Also, as Alyssa points out in her review, Melissa does end Invaded with the aforementioned cliffhanger, and we don't know if we're getting more books in the series yet! So do yourself and all other readers a favor, and buy both books, thus (hopefully) helping us secure a third book!
Landers has included intrigue, romance and humor, in her ongoing tale about a couple who is willing to work through alien cultures, hundreds of light years and life, simply to be together. Cara and Aelyx may not have all the answers, but they're willing to work to develop their relationship, and I can pretty much guarantee that readers will enjoy the ride.
Landers has also created an intricate universe filled with geopolitical questions and real world-inspired issues that are sure to intrigue readers of all ages. Like Alienated, Landers challengs readers to examine both sides of the issue and to recognize that it’s important to respect both sides.
Bottom line, Invaded continues to build upon an ever-growing and intriguing world, while helping readers get to further know likable characters who will keep them thinking long after they've finished reading.
About the author:
Melissa Landers (melissa-landers.com) 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 husband and three kids. She lives outside Cincinnati and in the small town of Loveland, "Sweetheart of Ohio."