Saturday, April 12, 2014

Review: Alienated

Alienated (Alienated, #1)Title: Alienated
Author: Melissa Landers
Series: Alienated
Volume: 1
Genre: Romance, Science Fiction
Release Date: February 4, 2014

A Quick Introduction: It has been two years since aliens made contact. Now, Cara Sweeney is about to be one of the first humans to know one personally. She's been chosen to host one of three exchange students, and later to visit his home planet. Now she'll have the money for her dream school, not to mention exclusive information about the L'eihrs for her blog. Living with Aelyx is complicated, not only because of him, but also because of the anti-L'eihr paranoia. As tension on Earth builds, and the xenophobia gets increasingly violent, Cara finds herself turning more and more to Aelyx. She finds herself falling for him, but he has dangerous secrets, ones that put not only both of them at risk, but the entire planet.

Out of Ten: 3/10

Review at a Glance: This story's poorly thought out science and flat characters didn't win me over.

Review: This story wasn't really for me. I found the premise hard to swallow- I can only suspend disbelief so much in science fiction (or anything). I just couldn't buy it from a biology perspective.

*Miniature science lesson/rant coming your way starting now.*

You see, it is incredibly unlikely to find an intelligent sentient species structured similarly to human, physically. Very, very unlikely. Like "the odds, for the sake of calculation can be considered zero because they are so small" unlikely. Even with the an untold number of planets, we're pretty strangely structured creatures.
First you have to find a planet capable of sustaining life (in the book this planet is very similar to Earth's atmosphere, and has a similar hydrosphere, so Earth-like,which is even more unlikely). There are several criteria for that. Now, only a very small fraction of those planets could, hypothetically, actually have life would- the complicated accident that is life is incredibly unlikely to happen on many of them. Of these organisms, life with DNA as the carrier of genetic information is unlikely. Now, of these planets that support life, and have life, life that uses DNA, most would probably have only single-celled organisms, just due to a difference in circumstances (selective pressures, mutations etc.). Of the life that made the jump to being multicellular, and in that incredibly uncommon multicellular life, the planet would have to have undergone a similar pattern of events (catastrophic and otherwise), that selected for every creature along the evolutionary line that lead to humans, as well as for social societies.Which, is highly, highly highly improbable.

There's a saying, that if you locked a bunch of monkeys in a room with typewriters, eventually, by sheer chance, one of them would write Macbeth-it is less than a 1 a hundred trillion. This is a lot less than that. This is less likely than the chance of a monkey typing Macbeth. Probably about as likely as a sea cucumber typing Macbeth. Do you see my problem here?

*End miniature rant.*

Summarized for those who skipped the block paragraph up there (I don't blame you...): I didn't buy the science behind the aliens, and how closely they resembled humans, it just didn't work for me as a person who has taken high school biology, which a lot of people have done, so I don't think I'm unreasonable to take issue with this. Research is key. Moving on.

I found that I didn't really feel much for the characters themselves. This story is told in third person limited, alternating between Cara and Aelyx. Cara was fine, just kind of cliche and a little bit mean sometimes. Aelyx was, quite frankly, kind of a jerk. I didn't really connect with either of them on an emotional level. Both of them felt a little inconsistent, for one thing, there was no gradual development of the characters. Another problem for me was one that I often have: we are informed that these characters are really smart- really smart, overachieving smart- but I didn't feel like that carried through in the way that they acted a lot of the time. I mean, let's sabotage our species's only shot at survival! What could possibly go wrong? And talk about impulsive decisions. Besides that, I really just didn't care that much about either of them. The supporting cast- I don't know. They didn't really ring true for me, I suppose. They were cliche, and also felt a little like the faceless masses, rather than actual people. Cara's friends were terrible.

It bothers me in romances when one of the people involved literally becomes so isolated that the only person they have to turn to is the other, and the relationship starts there. It just seems like an incredibly unhealthy way to start an intimate relationship, without really knowing each other at all, so for me the romance got off on the wrong foot. I don't know I would say that it felt like insta-love (insta-attraction, maybe?), but the romantic relationship just developed really fast once it started, and probably felt even faster because of the time skips- sometimes a week would pass, and be acknowledged in a sentence before moving on. So I didn't feel like there was emotional closeness, which is kind of important in a romantic relationship.

As for the plot. Well, there was one. It mainly centred around the amount of prejudice humans had toward the L'eihr, and vice versa. And also a certain character making certain stupid decisions for no clear reason besides that he dislikes humans.  I kind of wish that there had been better development of the plot, though it is going to overreach three books, so this was likely mainly set-up. The plot in this book seemed mainly intended to lay the base for the next book, and the final one.

The writing didn't carry the weaker aspects of the book. There wasn't really a flow- the time skips felt like time skips, like they had been cut out, which gave both an impression of things happening faster than they probably did, and the impression that maybe something important had been missed. That said, I was pulled in enough to be compelled to finish the book, and I finished it pretty quickly.

Also (not that this should figure in but it total does because I am a pretentious cover-judge of the highest order). Really not a fan of the cover.

Overall, I didn't really like this one. I finished it, and finished it pretty quick, so points for that, but I didn't really like it. I loved biology in high school, so I just couldn't get past the "the aliens are practically human" shtick, and I didn't connect at all to the characters themselves. I actually wonder if my issue with the science part made me more critical of the rest of the book. I got through it, but my interest declined as the book went on, and I'm on the fence about reading the second one, but I don't think that I will.

No comments :

Post a Comment