Romance takes a back seat to suspense in this sequel to Alienated (2014).
Star-crossed lovers Aelyx and Cara Sweeney are wrenched galaxies apart after the near-catastrophic collapse of the human-L’eihr student-exchange program. He is ordered on a goodwill tour of Earth to repair the interplanetary alliance; she is dispatched to the L’eihr equivalent of high school. Neither mission fares well: Terrorists keep trying to assassinate Aelyx, and Cara learns that prejudice and bullying aren’t unique to humanity. Worse still, they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot threatening both worlds. While retaining the alternating viewpoints and distinctive voices of the first title, the protagonists’ forced separation for nearly the entire story paradoxically gives greater depth and authenticity to their romance. Without the hazy glow of adolescent hormones, each learns to turn a critical eye upon the flaws of their native societies while confronting genuine obstacles to a future together. These complications only underscore the growing sense of menace—from overt threats, hidden betrayals and possibly a third alien species—tensions that propel the narrative to an action-packed climax. If Cara’s final decision, with all its unlikely consequences, strains belief…well, it’s not inconsistent with the characters and cultures present from the first.
The last few pages set up the inevitable sequel; if it is as entertaining as this tale, it can’t come soon enough. (Science fiction. 12-18)