Saturday, July 6, 2013

Take Me To Your Leader

Expected Publication:  February 4th, 2014
By: Melissa Landers
ISBN-13:  9781423170280

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them. 

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.


     Cara Sweeny is looking forward to a new school year with her best friend, her awesome boyfriend (even if she's not quite as sure about him as she used to be) and her status as top in the running for valedictorian finally being attained.  Then the Principal drops the bomb on her that she's been chosen to have her family host the first interplanetary exchange, with her brother going to L'eihr and a boy named Aelyx coming to live with them.  Cara is not really all that pleased, but decides to make the best of things for the sake of the scholarship money that will get her to whatever college she wants.  So she starts a blog and gets his room ready.  When the Sweeny family brings Aelyx back to their small town, all Hell breaks loose.  With anit-L'eihr sentiment building at a rapid pace, Cara is dumped by her boyfriend and her friend who join a hate society against the aliens and gets threatening notes and assault attempts against her.  Can she and Aelyx become friends against all odds, even with all the differences between the L'eihr and the Humans?  What will they do when the violence escalates to a breaking point and forces them to make a drastic choice?
     I like the alien novels recently joining the YA canon, the most prominent of which that's coming to mind being The Luxe Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout.  As much as I love that other series, it is Roswellian in its drama and teen angst quotient.  This was almost like reading a memoir by a participant of the Little Rock Nine when they were attempting integration in 1957.  I hesitate to make that comparison, but the amount of focus and detail towards the paranoia, violence and hate directed at both Aelyx and Cara because he's from L'eihr and not Earth, reminded me eerily of the treatment of African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement.  It wasn't all politics, thought they played an important (and well-written part).  This book also deals with serious character development in Aelyx (stereotypical cold alien at first) and Cara (epitome of the self-centered, ambitious teen girl).  Through their friendship with each other and the struggles that it brings they are transformed into people that I would be proud to know in real life.  The descriptions of L'eihr, the relationships and interactions of Aelyx with his fellow alien exchange students and the government conspiracies added some serious depth to this book too.  I loved the descriptive language and felt like it struck the perfect balance, stopping just short of overblown.  Also, the humor in this book had me laughing out loud so often that I smile just remembering it.  It was such sincere, effortless humor and the exchanges between Cara and Aelyx were high points for sure.  The chess games cracked me up, as well as her cooking attempts.  And may I just say that I sincerely hope Disney keeps this cover?  It fits the story perfectly, which is a rarity (especially in YA fiction).  Plus it's just gorgeous and eye-catching.  All in all, probably one of the best books that I will read this year and I'm definitely buying my own copy when it comes out.  This is the shining example of what the YA Science-Fiction genre can be when done right! :)  Highly recommended to anyone, hardcore fan of sci-fi or not.  Put it on your to-read list and await February anxiously!

VERDICT:  5/5  Stars

**I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication is February 4th, 2014.**

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