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Cara Sweeney has been selected to host the USA's first L'eihr exchange student, Aelyx (pronounced A-Licks). In addition to getting a full ride to college, she'll also have inside information on the aliens that any journalist would kill for. Humans and L'eihrs have almost identical DNA, but they are definitely non-human. Aelyx, at first, comes across as a little cold, detached, and a genius. One by one Cara begins to lose her friends and supporters as they get swept up by HALO, an organization that spreads extreme anti-L'eihr propaganda. Cara surprisingly gets support from the last person she expected, Aelyx himself. Aelyx becomes her only friend and she realizes she has fallen for him over the course of the semester as he begins to open up. However, Aelyx is keeping secrets about his plans for the exchange - secrets that could damage the Earth-L'eihr alliance and the future of her planet.
Intergalactic exchange students?! That concept drew me in from the very beginning; it's right up my alley! I enjoyed the fact that we get a look at both worlds/species; we meet both Cara and Aelyx in their own elements. We get a good deal of world-building on both sides of the exchange. I also enjoyed the moments of culture shock and seeing their differences from one another. And, of course, I have to make mention of HALO. HALO is an anti-propaganda group that quickly gains traction and becomes willing to do anything to get the L'eihrs out even if an alliance could prove very beneficial to Earth. There are quite a few scary parallels between this group and the segregationists who tried to block the integration of Southern high schools and civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s. As for the characters, the leads are pretty great and we can see them grow and change over the course of the story, but in the case of Cara's "friends," like Tori, the changes and growth are for the worse. The romance aspect was sweet and I'm glad there wasn't a love triangle or instalove, but an affection that grows over time. Things I would have liked to have seen: more decent human characters and a little more creativity on the alien aspect. I generally prefer my aliens a little more alien, thanks.
Random parts that made my day:
Mentioning Lowe's and paint (p. 18)!! Being a part-time paint stirrer myself I got a kick out of this! A lot more, I expect, than a normal person would. I seriously wish the Lowe's paint department got some pagetime!
Referencing that "unedited fanfiction book with all the spanking" (p. 130) - I know how you feel Eileen.
The gadget Aelyx uses to unlock his ship (p. 185) - I found myself hoping it was something like this:
This book was read from June 5 - 9, 2014 and this review can also be found on Goodreads.