• The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne
The Stars We Steal Book Cover The Stars We Steal
Alexa Donne
Teen, Young Adult, Space, Romance, Fiction
HMH Books for Young Readers
February 4, 2020
Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, has only 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 who 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 falling for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.

Good “Bookends” are important…

The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne is a teen/YA story of love versus obligation for a futuristic young women, Princess Leonie who prefers to be called Leo.  She carries the archaic title of princess even though the only thing she is heir to is a decrepit spaceship in the stellar settlement for the remnants of earth.  These ended up in space, hundreds of years ago, after a catastrophic event plummeted  earth into an unforgiving ice age.  Only the wealthy and titled of the world were able to escape to space along with a crew of servants and workers.  A two-tiered society has continued, with the titled and rich maintaining control through an elaborate tradition called the Vlog, a month-long event full of activities meant to match the most eligible young people for marriage and family alliances.  At sixteen, Leo was forced by her family to turn her back on her first love, Elliot the son of her father’s butler, and has refused to be part of numerous Vlogs which would force her into a loveless alliance.  Because of her age this is her final year of eligibility in the Vlog.  Her father gives her no choice but to enter, but she continues to work on getting a patent to sell a water filtration system she has redesigned with hopes that this will be the way to maintain her autonomy without marrying for money to prevent the loss of their family ship.  When Elliot returns, with progressive ideas for the future of the fleet, as the wealthy heir to a Russian ship and fortune, Leo’s Vlog experience becomes more life-altering than she planned.

For me, how an author begins and ends a book is almost as important as the story itself.  If I am not “hooked” quickly it’s hard to get invested in the tale the author is trying to create.  Also, if the book finishes with subplots or other integral questions unresolved I am left feeling somewhat shorted.  The Stars We Steal lacked both “bookends” for me.  Initially, I struggled to get engaged with the story and had to force myself to continue ready.  Once I got a few chapters in, Alexa was able to craft an interesting story with a diverse cast of characters and multiple plot lines to add a touch of mystery and intrigue.  Her futuristic setting along with an adapted version of the Bachelor/Bachelorette provides for a unique backdrop to Leo’s personal story involving her family and Elliot.  Alexa ends most of Leo’s story in a satisfactory way but leaves a few unanswered questions, specifically with regards to her father and the fate of the lower class inhabitants of society.  It made me wonder why these issues were given importance if they were at least somewhat resolved in the end.  

The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne is a well-written, futuristic book that will appeal to many teens and young adults.  The main story-line is engaging and there is plenty of age appropriate romance and intrigue for me to recommend this as a solid book.