Alexa Donne has truly reached up to the heavens and plucked out a little slice of glittery perfection to serve to us on a midnight platter.
The Stars We Steal is a masterpiece meets sparkle and glitter, bringing us a story about old-royalty, failing titles and difficult sacrifices. This book brings together Love Island, Anastasia and The Selection by putting them all in space, completely unaware of what is about to happen. And boy does a lot happen!
This book follows Leo, a strong, family-orientated Princess who knows she’s the only one who can save her father and sister from a life of devastation and poverty. With her father pressuring her to marry rich, Leo signs up to take part in a match-making system thats designed to help her find her perfect match. Only, she isn’t looking for love. She’s looking for money.
Leo keeps up the facade, effortlessly manevouring the politics of the game all whilst coming up with her own way to save her family – an ingenious device that recycles water and turns a limited resource into an unlimited one. However, this… ambitious side of her is not one her family is proud of. Her father is determined she ties herself down and forgets her dreams of marrying for love.
But then her ex-flame signs up to be partnered off to a young hopeful, and… suddenly? The game is ON.
You know those TV shows that you either watch religiously or flick past when they come up on screen? You know the ones, where the cheese is undeniable and everyone is partnering off with each other or stabbing each other in the back. The ones that you guiltily pay attention to and tell everyone else that “you don’t watch it”. The Stars We Steal gives you all the addictive rush of a cheesy show like the Bachelor or Love Island, with none of the embarrassment. Alexa has taken this weirdly addictive concept, destroyed the earth, and placed us all up in space for a wild ride between the galaxies.
The “world” (as there are no actual worlds) building is gorgeous and I’m always fascinated by the technologies and advancements made by humankind in science-fiction. It makes me wonder how far away we are from living on spaceships because we’ve destroyed the Earth in its entirety. This question drives the wonder Alexa builds around us and makes the scenario she’s built for her book so much more relatable. In reality, we probably aren’t that far off being forced away from our planet due to not looking after it properly. Which, yes, is terrifying (especially if you aren’t rich royalty who would be assigned your own spaceship) but also a matter of intrigue and sets a stage that can be explored in a thousand different ways.
The Stars We Steal does really dive into this concept, unlike a few other science fiction books where Earth is barely mentioned and very little is established as to why humankind makes its home between the stars. I really like how Alexa brought in this focus with her use of Leo, who is a vibrant and outstanding character. The characters were really well written and I’m always a sucker for believable personalities and I felt what we were given definitely ticked that box. There’s so much teenage drama and angst brought on by young people being forced to take bigger steps than their legs allow and the political manoeuvring these poor people are forced through for the sake of their parents is honestly devastating and really highlights some of the issues going on in our own world, where children are used as a device for fame.
I really loved the entire vibe of this book. It managed to bring in so much humour and happenings and really kept me on the edge of my seat, as cliched as it sounds. It isn’t often a book really captures me and encourages me to read it. I sadly find myself procrastinating reading a lot by writing blog posts or gaming, but nothing was allowed to stand in the way of me reading The Stars We Steal – not even impending exams or life responsibilities. It felt… urgent. Like if I didn’t absorb it as fast as possible the enjoyment wouldn’t have been the same. Like watching half of an episode of Love Island and just being confused and not allowing yourself to get to the part where they eliminate people. It just wasn’t happening ok??
As you probably know by now, I adore romance books. I really liked how The Stars We Steal managed to touch on bigger topics whilst also having a friends-to-lovers-to-enemies-to-friends-to-lovers sideline. THE ANGST GUYS. I could have drowned in it! The romance is ridiculously well done, with the tension brewing between the two main characters actually making crackling noises and occasionally just bursting into flames. I’m not sure I agree entirely with the expectations they place on each other, I think they were overwhelmed by their feelings and didn’t see rationally at times, but that didn’t take away from the relationship at all.
This book was truly a master of all trades. Not only does it have realistic characters that practically hold your hand all the way through and a beautiful world of glamour and spaceships, but there’s so much more going on too. There’s a rebellion trying to disrupt the ‘matchmaking’ and gain traction for starving populations. There’s a murder mystery. There’s a presidential race. There is SO MUCH that goes on in what’s not that long of a book, but there’s enough details about everything that it doesn’t fall flat- unlike other books that try so hard to tick every box.
The Stars We Steal is perfection and easily become one of my top 3 YA science-fictions of ALL TIME. Thank you to Titan Books for optioning this one and bringing it to UK readers, like little old me.
Disclaimer: I was sent a finished copy by TitanBooks in an exchange for an honest review. Everything I’ve written above has been accurate to my true feelings and not been influenced by bias.