Title: The Stars We Steal
Author: Alexa Donne
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Date published: February 4th 2020
Format: Hard Cover
Page Count: 400
Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?
But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love Elliot returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one that got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now, he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself failing for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.
**Thank you Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for providing me this ARC in exchange for and honest review**
When initially reading the blurb, I figured it was a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. But it wasn’t until I got half way through the book where I realized how I was getting more of a Bacherlorette vibe from the story. (And the front cover is also a rose!) If you’re looking for a brief blurb on the story, think Persuasion + The Bachelorette + The One That Got Away + Love Triangles + Family Drama.
The Stars We Steal follows Leonie Kolburg, a German princess and heir to The Sofi, and old European spaceship. As her family are close to facing bankruptcy, Leo must find a way to save her family from financial ruin. Unfortunately, Leo is backed into her only option: Valg Season, where she’ll have to find a wealthy suitor to marry off to. Her plans go astray as Elliot, her first love, returns. The past memories and the regrets overwhelm Leo as the two tip-toe around each other, hurt from the past and by each other.
The story takes place in the future where the Earth is barren and no longer inhabitable. Wealthy families who were fortunate enough to have boarded a space ship in time have lived outer space. Countries are replaced by fleets like The Scandinavian, The Empire, Lady Liberty, and Saint Petersburg. While the story took place among the elite and the wealthy, there exists turmoil amidst the lower classes and the stirring of a possible revolution. The world building was really interesting, but I did wish that the author had spent more time bringing us into the world.
The story was definitely more focused on the drama and the romance while the looming revolution and politics was a weaker subplot. As a result, while I did fully get to know the characters, I didn’t completely feel immersed in their world.
But I’m not going to say that I didn’t enjoy the romance and the characters. It was what made the book so entertaining! Rather, my investment in Leo was what kept me flipping through the story. Running her own ship and maintaining family affairs at the age of eighteen, Leonie was a character that I learned to admire. She’s independent and self-driven, determined to find a way to solve her family’s financial burdens without having to marry for money. She has a strong-willed attitude towards everything .. except when it came Elliot. It was frustrating seeing her constantly struggle with her feelings for her ex-fiance, Elliot, while helplessly watching her own sister and cousin fight over him. (Did I mention family drama?) Leonie seemed to be such an empowering character, taking care of her family and designing her own initiatives towards sustainability, and it was disappointing to see it fall apart whenever it came to Elliot. But unfortunately, that’s what being love struck does to you, right? 😦
Things I Liked
- LGBTQ+ representation
- Positive body images (ie love your bodyyyyy)
- Strong female friendships. I loved how Evengia rooted for Leo and it was adorable watching her try to play wing-woman for her.
- Leonie is probably one of my favourite characters.
- The COVER: need I say more?
Things I Didn’t Like
- I think this might just be because I’ve been reading a lot of books that promote diversity, but there was an evident lack of POC (all the characters were Caucasian)
- The ending felt contrived and simplistic. Some of the subplots didn’t feel like they were wrapped up
- But then again, it’s also important to mention that the book heavily focuses on the character’s stories rather than the world itself.
But nonetheless, the advancing plot and the anticipation to see how Valg Season played out made it a really quick read. The cliff hangers at the end of every chapter keeps you going. Just like you would when watching a TV series, you can’t help but move to the next episode, the question of “what happens next?” looming over your head. If you’re looking from something like the bachelor/the bachelorette or are a fan of Kiera Cass, you should definitely give this book a read.