United is the final instalment in Landers' Alienated novel about aliens contacting Earth and attempting to form an alliance between the two cultures.
In the second novel, Invaded, Aelyx and Cara discovered the truth behind the L'eihr's desired alliance with Earth; the L'eihrs were determined to form an army to fight the Aribol if required, combining L'eihr technology with human soldiers that they lacked. Cara learns from Alona that dozens of probes have landed all over L'eihr. The probes were deciphered and it was determined that they were an attempt to learn about the L'eihr weaponry systems.
Cara also learns from the researcher Larish that it was possible the Elders used the DNA of the ancients to create Jaxen and Aisly but that such DNA might have been incomplete. He also tells Cara that rumours are that the bodies of the ancient queen and her consort were exhumed and cloned, but that their abilities were heightened with alien DNA. This happened twenty one years ago meaning that Jaxen might be that clone.
Cara, Syrine, Aelyx and Troy return to Earth where an attempt is made to kill Aelyx and destroy the Human-L'eihr alliance. David refuses to carry out Jaxen's command to murder Aelyx and dies in a shootout with Grimes who reveals that Jaxen is planning a coup to take over both Earth and L'eihr.
United opens with Cara and Aelyx arriving at the colony on L'eihr. Accompanying them is Syrine who has the remains of her l'ihan, David with her. Syrine wants him buried on the colony and then she will return to the continent for healing.
On the colony, Cara meets with Devinder who is now part of the Way. Devinder gives Cara a tour outlining how the colony is set up. The colony has one squadron to maintain order and to administer Reckonings, a form of corporal punishment using an electronic lash. Cara is to be a liaison for the human colonists while Aelyx will represent the L'eihr clones.
Aelyx and Cara settle into their apartment which consists of a living area and a bedroom; there is no kitchen or eating area and no bathrooms as these rooms are communal. A couple of months into the settlement of the colony, very few human-L'eihr couples have formed. Instead the two races seem to be grouped separately. Already there are problems as the humans cannot apply for jobs they like but are assigned tasks. Jake Winters, a young former leader of a multi-million dollar corporation on Earth wants
Cara receives an urgent transmission from Alona who tells her that the Aribol have made contact. Alona tells her that Aribol probes were also sent to Earth, something Cara feels government leaders likely hid from their people. The Aribol identifies himself as Zane, appearing wearing some kind of mask. Zane refers to the humans and L'eihr as "Novens" and reveals that they are descended from a single race the Aribol seeded throughout the universe. He also tells them that they are more aggressive than other Noven and that the alliance poses a threat to other races they've seeded nearby. When Cara objects saying they have no basis for this conclusion, Zane indicates that "This is a proactive measure to maintain peace. We will allow humans and L'eihrs one month to return to your respective planets and then surrender all interstellar travel technology. If you refuse to comply, both civilizations will have to be neutralized." When Alona doubts Zane's threat, he destroys the L'eihr's spaceport and their entire Voyager fleet save for one craft so they can comply with the Aribol demands.
Devender believes that the L'eihr exaggerating their defenses and weaponry to the mechanical probes is likely the reason the Aribol believe they are aggressive and heavily armed. Cara however, feels something is not right. Alona states that the Aribol signal originated from a galaxy they recently discovered last year but have not yet explored. Alona decides that the one Voyager craft currently away on a mission will be sent to investigate the galaxy Zane's message originated from while all the human colonists will return to Earth. Aelyx is allowed to accompany Cara as he will be able to return to L'eihr if necessary. Some of the L'eihr colonists including humans volunteer to join the Voyager ship seeking out the Aribol system. One of those is Jake Winters. Can Cara and Aelyx discover the truth about the Aribol in time to save their alliance and their home planets?
Unlike the first novel Alienated, which was predominantly character driven, United is a much more action driven story as the main characters, Cara and Aelyx strive to solve the mystery of the Aribol and why they are determined to destroy the alliance between humans and the L'eihr. The overall direction of the storyline through the three books was somewhat disappointing as the initial premise of the first novel, an alien race making contact with Earth for what appeared to be benevolent reasons and the struggles of the two races to understand and trust one another - was intriguing and showed promise. Instead of exploring more in-depth the developing relationships between characters the plot became more about the utilitarian motives of the L'eihr in contacting Earth as a strategic measure to protect themselves against the Aribol.
The resolution to the conflict between the Aribol and the humans/L'eihr was simplistic and inconsistent. It felt like the development of the plot was lazy. The Aribol are supposedly advanced well beyond human and L'eihr capabilities yet their ships are destroyed when they arrive at both planets. Presumably the Aribol have more than two interstellar craft, something even Cara considers as she's arguing for peace, "who knew how many Destroyers they'd stationed throughout the galaxy?". Yet the destruction of these two ships is enough to convince the Aribol to partake of a truce.
The focus on action means little attention is devoted to further character development. Cara remains the fair-minded, open and forgiving person she was in the first novel. She offers to help Rune, the rapidly aging clone of herself and argues for peace rather than escalating tensions with the Aribol. Aelyx, Troy, Syrine and Larish are all characters who aid Cara in her mission to save the alliance and Earth.
Science fiction fans who enjoy a light read with romance will enjoy the Alienated series. There is some sexual content but nothing explicit.
United by Melissa Landers
New York: Elire Publishing 2016