All quotes are taken from the ARC and are subject to change
Overall: 3.25/5 Stars
Plot and Themes: 3/5
Awesomeness Factor: 3/5
Review in a Nutshell: The Stars We Steal is a fun, enjoyable book with plenty of drama, easy to read in one sitting (which I might have done).
“I was chasing dreams like starlight.”
[ Related: Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne (Review) ]
// Content Warning: Assault, Torture Mention, Phobia, Murder Mention, Homphobic Comments, Illness //
Release Date: 2/4/2020
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Page Count: 400
This book is really The Bachelor/Bachelorette but in space. Okay, well it’s actually a retelling of Persuasion, but I know almost nothing about Persuasion (I know- sacrilege) so I can’t speak to how good of a retelling it is. But instead of talking about the stories and ideas this book is inspired by, let’s talk about the story this book is really about.
The Stars We Steal follows Princess Leonie (who prefers to be called Leo) who is entering the Valg, where the wealthiest bachelors and bachelorettes enjoy a month on a luxury spaceship and try to find their future spouse. Leo knows she needs to marry someone wealthy enough to save her family from financial ruin, but she would prefer to not marry anyone. At least, that’s the case until her first love, Elliot- now a successful captain- returns to join the Valg.
“Like a compass aligning itself. He was my true north.”
Writing & Setting
Alexa Donne’s writing style is simple and easy to get into, her books read like a contemporary despite being sci-fi. But that doesn’t mean her setting is lackluster. The world she built is unique and interesting, the premise being that 200 years in the future the Earth is inhabitable due to an ice age and all of humanity orbits it on various spaceships that represent countries. The world building is done pretty well, without horribly heavy exposition, but it can feel like a lot to take in at first, and that’s with me having already read the spin-off novel that takes place in the same universe.
The plot centers mostly around: the drama of the Valg, Leo being stuck between her desire to not get married and her desire to help her family, and the angst between Leo and her ex, Elliot. There are some mentions of politics and some suspicious characters but overall, this book is about the drama. Sometimes that can be fun, but in this case, it made the first half of the book feel a little slow. Listen, I love romance so much, but this book really could have used a little more of something-anything else. A more tangible plot does begin to emerge a little before the last act of the book, which brings forward great themes surrounding morality and advanced capitalism that were hinted at earlier but never fully explored. However, it felt a little too late and made the ending seem rushed. That said, the plot is still fun and enjoyable if you’re looking for some angst and fluff, but not much action.
The Stars We Steal follows Leo, a broke princess who is strong, logical, and ruled by reason, sometimes to a fault. Elliot, the love interest, is Leo’s ex, her first love who disappeared for three years only to return rich, and the Valg’s most eligible bachelor. He’s idealistic, occasionally a jerk, but ultimately a good person whose (broken) heart is in the right place. I really love how flawed he was, and how both him and Leo didn’t just forgive each other each time they made a mistake; they had to work through them, and apologize or show remorse before they could move on. I thought that was a really important and healthy dynamic to have in a YA book.
There are also plenty of side characters, each one fairly fleshed out and well developed. A female friendship is one of the most important relationships in this book (besides the romance and the sister’s dynamic) and that was really great to see. Although, there definitely is some girl-on-girl hate here as well, which really wasn’t great. But back to the good things, did I mention the LGBTQ+ rep? Because this book features prominent lesbian and asexual rep, as well as a few mentions of gay characters and a reference to nonbinary and queer people overall, which I adored.
“I was a commodity in a pretty dress, on display for all to see.”
Pros-Interesting world, love Alexa Donne’s ideas of dating in space, easy to read in a day (trust me on that one)
Cons- Very drama focused (which could be good, but is something to be aware of if you’re looking for action), rushed ending
Overall- 3.25/5 stars.
The Stars We Steal is a perfectly fun read, and while it isn’t perfect, I really did find myself enjoying it.
If You Liked The Stars We Steal, I’d Recommend:
- Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne – [Review]
- Defy the Stars (Constellation #1) by Claudia Gray – [Review]
- Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury – [Review]
What is your favorite YA romance?