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. Quoted from Goodreads
Okay, on to the actual book. It's just plain fun. You can pretty much guess from the set up in the beginning what's going to happen (with a few fun twist and turns), and I was okay with that. After reading books like Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave (which I love, don't get me wrong), it's nice to have less violent aliens. I'm not saying they're perfect or that there isn't conflict, but this book explores more the idea of human aggression and fear of the unknown vs. tolerance and acceptance, rather than alien invasion, and I enjoyed the different angle.
As for the characters, I really enjoyed Aelyx and Cara. They're different, well thought out, and realistic. The book's told from their dual POV, so you get both sides of the story. I particularly liked the L'eihr culture as it conflicted with earth's. They're colder, eat blander food, more formal, cloned, didn't grow up in a family unit, smarter, less emotional, and more genetically advanced, so you get that whole fish-out-of-water fun as worlds collide. I'll admit the physical descriptions reminded me of the main characters from Beth Revis's Across the Universe series, but I understand in both cases why they chose those particular features, so it didn't really bother me.
The romance is sweet (though I'm hoping a love triangle doesn't show up in the second book---there were hints that it could) and well developed. I loved the lack of insta-love and the way Aelyx and Cara drew closer together as the book progressed.
As a heads up, this does have more of a young adult vibe than a lot of YA science fiction book's I've read lately. Mostly I blame it on the setting (almost all high school). I realize this sounds weird, since it is clearly a YA book, so what else is it supposed to feel like? Let me explain. Most YA Scifi books I've read feature teenagers set in space or on a sort of post-apocalyptic earth or further in the future---you get the idea. This one could be set two years from now, and with the exception of a few chapters, it takes place all in a little town (and again, mostly at the high school) somewhere in the US. It's all part of the author exploring the human reaction to things rather than focusing on alien aggression.
What I'm especially excited for is book two. While I really enjoyed this book, I can't wait to see what happens next. I want to learn more about the L'eihrs and their planet. We got Aelyx's fish-out-of-water story this time. I can't wait for Cara's. Plus, tension are higher, and there's a lot more to loose at this point. So should you read this? Absolutely. If you're not a hard core science fiction fan, this is a great lead in. If you are, it's a fun, lighter take with some interesting world building and a great lead up to the next book. It's a solid 3.5 stars for me, rounding up to 4 on Goodreads (oh how I wish they did half stars!).
If you want to know more, check out the trailer below.