Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mini Reviews: Alienated & Sekret

Alienated (Alienated, #1)Author: Melissa Landers
Series: Alienated, #1
Published: February 4th 2014
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Format: Hardcover, 352 pgs
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

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.

For all the hype that surrounded this novel (and especially the pretty cover) prior to its release, Alienated ended up being pretty unremarkable. In it, Melissa Landers focused on delivering three things: humor, romance and a strong message about diversity and tolerance. Unfortunately, even that proved to be too much for this debut author and in the end, only the strong anti-xenophobic message was successful.

The romance, no matter how well planned, cannot reach its full potential without strong and well built characters, and neither Cara nor Aelyx were remarkable in any way. To make matters worse, Cara’s friends and family were no more than underdeveloped cardboard cutouts whose actions lacked any real explanation or depth. As for the humor, there were some actual laugh-out loud moments, which helped me warm up to this book significantly, but overall, it was a strong case of trying too hard, and when humor was most needed, all attempts fell flat.

If not for the strong intercultural message, Alienated would be an entirely unremarkable and pretty forgettable novel. As it is, I’m likely to recommend it to younger readers purely for its educational value.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influneced the opinions expressed in this review.

Sekret (Sekret, #1)Author: Lindsay Smith
Series: Sekret, #1
Published: April 1st 2014
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Format: Hardcover, 337 pgs
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

An empty mind is a safe mind.
Yulia's father always taught her to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive the harsh realities of Soviet Russia. But when she's captured by the KGB and forced to work as a psychic spy with a mission to undermine the U.S. space program, she's thrust into a world of suspicion, deceit, and horrifying power. Yulia quickly realizes she can trust no one--not her KGB superiors or the other operatives vying for her attention--and must rely on her own wits and skills to survive in this world where no SEKRET can stay hidden for long.
One should really be able to trust a blurb by someone as brilliant as Elizabeth Wein, but apparently, that’s really not the case. Sekret is a book that held so much promise, with a story about young psychic spies in Soviet Russia blackmailed into working for the KGB. And yet somehow, it ended up being my biggest disappointment of the year so far, made even worse by my extremely high expectations.

I can’t really fault Lindsay Smith or the publisher for false advertizing. We were promised a story about psychic spies in a very interesting historical setting, and that’s exactly what this book is. What’s more, it is clearly extremely well-researched and even thrilling, at least at first.

The problem, for me, was the emotional aspect of this book. Sekret reminded me of a delicious treat tightly wrapped in cellophane: I could see, but not touch or smell or taste or feel in any other significant way. When I try to pinpoint a reason for it, it all comes down to Yulia. Sekret desperately needed a stronger, clearer heroine, someone with far more character and strength. She should have been the light leading us through this horrible and dark story, but instead, we ended up blundering in the dark right alongside her.

So unlike Elizabeth Wein, who says that this beautiful novel left her aching, I was left severely disappointed, hoping that this young author with so much potential might do better next time.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influneced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. I agree that Alienated over all was pretty forgettable. I do love the cover though, it is pretty awesome.

    I am so sorry you got to only okay reads in a row (or at least in a row for review) that always sucks!

    Now you need to go read one of your favorite author or series to make up for it. ;)

  2. Not two books I am dying to read now

  3. Ahh that sucks that you weren't able to enjoy book as much as you'd hope Maja. Sounds liek both books were lacking strong developed characters, something which I really like to see in my books! :( I hope your next reads are a lot more enjoyable!

  4. It's a sham that these two didn't work out for you, Maja. I've heard so much praise for Alienated but I still am skeptical towards it.

    Brilliant reviews! <33

  5. Back-to-back 2.5s. That's rough. AND disappointing. Both of these books look really good at a glance. And the premises are good. But w/o solid characters to back them up . . . blah. Sorry, Maja!

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads

  6. I've avoided Alienated for the same reasons you mentioned - a severe lack of depth. It seems to be a hit as a simple pass-time novel, but as anything more it certainly fails. Regarding Sekret, I've been torn by both elated and disappointed reviews which is why I've decided to wait and see how the trilogy unfolds before diving into it. It seems to be a hit-or-miss with readers and I feel as though I may fall into the latter category. Thanks for these beautifully written and honest mini-reviews, Maja!(:

  7. Aw, great reviews. <3 Thank you so much for being honest. I'm sorry you didn't like Alienated. I loved it so much. But I agree with Sekret. I did not like that book much at all :p It just wasn't for me, sigh. Thank you for sharing :)

  8. I'm sad to hear Alienated didn't work for you cause I really enjoyed it and I loved how strong the message was without sounding too preachy!
    Sekret seemed a very interesting premise, so sorry to hear it also didn't work...
    Thanks for the very honest reviews, Maja!

  9. Alienated was fun and predictable. For me it was an easy read, and yes I wanted more but it entertained me. Sekret was on my wishlist, but after reading your thoughts I am sure I will be left disappointed. I love your candy wrapper analogy..perfect!

  10. I always feel duped when the blurb turns out to be completely different than the book. I mean, did they even read the book before writing that? Anyway, I'll be passing on these. I had a run of meh books and now I want something that I can really dig into and get lost in. Thanks for the honest reviews as always, Maja!

  11. I wasn't sold on the first one anyway so I'll probably just let it slide. I'm sad Sekret didn't work for you. I started it but was reading it on my phone and I hate to do that so I put it to the side. The beginning was good, though. I'll have to finish it and see if I agree about Yulia.

  12. While I liked Sekret a bit more than you did Maja, I adore your cellophane analogy and thinks it's absolutely accurate. I wasn't quite as emotionally attached to the story or characters as I wanted to be either, despite the fascinating premise and a very interesting and tense political setting. Hope whatever you pick up next is AMAZING:)

  13. Sorry you didn't really enjoy these two. I've read two reviews of Sekret now, and both are fairly similar, which is a bummer because it has such a lovely premise!

  14. Oh bummer all around! 2 reads that weren't all that great?! I was starting to get intrigued with Alienated myself but now I am left hesitant again. Oh well. Nice reviews! They were very honest and I like when reviewers are honest without completely tearing down the author's work.

    Hope your next reads are more enjoyable!

  15. I'm sorry the first one wasn't for you, I think I saw a lot of reviews like yours. But like you say the cover is so appealing!

  16. Alienated was a big miss for me as well. The only part I really enjoyed was the prejudice and hate, a strong message. The rest was predictable. The second book, I read another not so glowing review, Too bad, it had a lot of potential.

  17. I might try Alienated because of the message, but so sad to hear that the characters didn't cut it. Hm... I might try another book by Lindsay Smith since it sounds like you think she has potential.

  18. There was a lot of hype about Alienated. Bummer it was on the low side for you, actually both of them.

  19. Well that's too bad. I heard Alienated was a little lacking but had recently been highly recommend Sekret. I may have to try it just because of that recommendation and maybe I'll feel different than you, but at least I go in a bit more wary and prepared.

  20. sorry none of these worked for you, I heard alienated is just best read as a fluffy read. Shame it lacked.

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