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The Stars We Steal

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Member Reviews

Alexa Donne brings another amazing classic to life with a sci-fi twist. The Stars We Steal is a beautiful retelling of Persuasion full of diversity. I love how seamlessly Alexa mixes the old world classic and sci-fi genre's together to bring create a retelling that still feels true to the original. The slow burn romance between the two main characters was achingly written, which made the inevitable reunion all the more satisfying.
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This book was such a delight! Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen read and I loved this version of the story. I enjoyed all of the characters and the setting. There was more angst than I typically like in a story but the MCs are teenagers so angst is just part of the course...and as teenagers all the characters were very believable. Listened to this one on audio and just loved the narrator as well. Lovely read with a heart racing and also swoon worthy ending.
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A Persuasion retelling in space. A unique concept that was very enjoyable. Though I would have liked a bit more development on the side characters.
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*4.5 stars*

ARC received at ALA from HMH teen.

Summary
Princess Leonie is living aboard the Scandanavian, a spaceship in the fleet of what is left of the human population. Royal only in title, her family desperately needs her to marry for money. Enter the Valg Season - an event held every five years to match all eligible people in the fleet with their future spouses. Leo is desperately looking for a solution for her family that doesn't involve her being married off to the wealthiest suitor, but pulling off her plans are harder than she thought. To further complicate things, Leo's childhood love, Elliot, has returned for the Valg Season. Her heart is still broken from their whirlwind romance, where she was forced to break it off because he was a servant and had no wealth of his own. Upon his return, however, Elliot has amassed a fortune and is now the biggest catch of the Season.

Review
The Stars We Steal is pitched as The Bachelorette in space, but I found that it had the fun of the speed dating and matching aspects, and added depth and feeling with a deeper subplot. The writing was fun and quick to fly through, and this novel had levity without becoming too superficial. You end up really caring about the characters and the fate of the fleet.

I adored Leo. She's resourceful and has always been the caretaker for her father and sister. She is practical and reliable, and wants what's best for her family, even if it means sacrificing her own happiness. It hurt my heart to see the way that she had sacrificed her love for Elliot in order to keep her family afloat. Any woman with engineering skills in a novel will automatically win my heart, and I love that we got to see Leo coming up with inventions on her own, and coming up with a plan to get them implemented.

There are a whole cast of side characters that are all wonderful. I especially loved Leo's relationship with her sister, Carina. They definitely had their ups and downs, and it always made me emotional to see how much they cared for each other despite their obvious differences. Also, let me just say this novel was chock full of representation and it was really well done. We had Evgenia, who is a lesbian (and the author even touched upon participating in a Valg Season as a gay woman, and the difficulties/stigmas associate with it), Max and Ewan who are husbands, Daniel (view spoiler), and Leo was written as demi even though it's not explicitly stated in the text. This representation was beautifully done and seamlessly woven into the story, and I found it especially refreshing in a novel that is pitched as The Bachelorette-esque (which as we know, the show has almost no representation at all).

THE DRAMA. It was so fun! Not only were there twisty-turvey plots involved with the Valg Season and the complicated feelings as the characters try to pair off, but there was a huge subplot of the injustices on the fleet and the divide between the poor and the rich. This social commentary grounded the novel and kept it from feeling too superficial. I really felt like Leo's mind for inventions and Elliot's Robin Hood complex helped give this novel a lot of heart. But also, it was so much fun trying to see this cast of characters navigate their messy feelings.

I adored Elliot and Leo's romance. At the start of the novel, they have a long history and a lot of baggage to sort through. Their arc was written in such a way that you could feel like they really did a lot to navigate their complicated relationship and didn't just forgive one another instantly. It felt real, and raw. I really felt for them and all that they had went through.

I was surprised to learn that The Stars We Steal is a retelling of Austen's Persuasion! I love the idea of taking a classic story and spinning it into something new and fun.

If you're looking for a fun sci-fi novel, this is the book for you! I honestly flew through it in one weekend because it was compulsively readable!
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Thank you NetGalley and HMH for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Stars We Steal
By: Alexa Donne


REVIEW ☆☆☆☆
I love Jane Austen, but Persuasion has never been a personal favorite of mine. The Stars We Steal presents an idea I have never heard before with the story set in space. I had my doubts, but royalty and retellings in a unique setting makes for a good solid read. I flew through this one and found it very enjoyable and entertaining. If you like Jane Austen, I recommend trying this book.
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This was such a fun read. I loved the characters and the world development. Anytime there is a theme of royalty in a novel I am instantly intrigued and this book did not disappoint.
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The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne is a fantastic telling of Jane Austen in Space. Persuasion has never been my favorite of her novels, but this update was refreshing and so much fun!
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I'm definitely here for Jane Austen in space. Alexa Donne's retelling of Persuasion stars Leo, the heir to a derelict space ship, who is reluctantly participating in her society's match-making season. Marriage for money could save her family, but Leo would rather save her family through ingenuity. It doesn't help that she's still pining for her first love, Elliot. Elliot has returned to the ship, and the former-servant is now wealthy and an heir himself. Enduring the season was bad enough. Now Leo has to watch as other girls flirt with her former flame.

I really enjoyed The Stars We Steal. The world building is really well done. Leo has an interesting circle of friends. I've read a lot of books lately that felt like kind of a chore, and this one was such a nice breath of fresh air. I flew through it.
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Having been told by a fellow Bookstagrammer that this book was a retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion, set in space, I was very excited to read it. Even better, I got a free ARC of it through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review, which is forthcoming.

Reading it with a fairly strict Persuasion lens on, though, confused me a little, so I quickly let that go. Indeed, Alexa Donne herself acknowledged on Goodreads that it is "technically...a Persuasion retelling... but in developing it and trying to give Persuasion a firmer plot (to fit as a YA sci-fi book), it morphed a bit more into Jane Austen meets The Bachelor. You'll see tropes and archetypes from additional Austen books, basically, but the romance arc is pure Persuasion!"

It's a story of two almost-adults who were once briefly engaged until the m.c., Leonie, broke it off. Then, a few years later, they're thrown back into each other's company after the guy, Elliott, has made a name for himself. There are the Persuasion similarities. But they're on spaceships orbiting a frozen earth, Leonie's a princess whose family has fallen on hard times, and they're both thrown into a forced matchmaking period with a bunch of other people from which they're supposed to pick their spouses so that the leadership of those spaceships can follow family lines. And Leonie's sister, while still as facetious as Anne's sister in Austen's Persuasion, is not nearly as vindictive. So...there are some major differences.

I think Austen fans will still like this version, as will fans of Kiera Cass' The Selection and of The Bachelor TV show. I enjoyed it plenty, mostly because of that "romance arc." The tension that builds up between Leonie and Elliot over the course of the book--the mistakes, misread cues, coming-togethers, and separations--were all deftly woven and provide not only an entertaining experience for the reader but also a good example of how to build tension through dialogue and action for the writer.

I'm still trying to understand, though, the necessity of the "Valg," or forced matchmaking time. Since that's a fundamental part of the conflict Leonie faces, it seemed like the reasons for it should have been a more fundamental part of the plot, and while Leonie's participation in the Valg is, the reasons behind it aren't necessarily. Maybe they are and I just didn't see it.

Too, I would have liked a stronger ending. Since, by the end of the book, it's obvious that it's just a loose interpretation of Persuasion, the ending could have been longer than the equivalent of Anne and Wentworth walking off down the street hand in hand. I would have liked more realistic wrappings-up of some of the side plot lines, for instance, but had to suffice with a somewhat "tell-y" and short epilogue.

But the characters, for the most part, are full-bodied and engaging, the "world" of the spaceships is fully utilized for all the fun, imaginative elements it can provide, and the romantic tension, like I said, was marvelous. All in all, an enjoyable read that I recommend.
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This is a fantastic story sure to wrap any reader up with intrigue and a fast paced plot.  There's a lot going on in this story and I found myself quickly progressing through just to find out so many details.  I enjoyed it tremendously and highly recommend!
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I did not know that this was a retelling of the classic Persuasion, I have not read the original so I can't compare it and have no opinion on that matter. I went into the story with a complete blank slate, knowing nothing about the plot, basically just picking this because I love the cover (yes, I am that person).

I was really into this story, completely on board with all the angst and completely wrapped up in the romantic drama (which is basically all tell and no show of most of it but high on the current heart break). Also the costuming and fun dating issues of the Valg Season were interesting, almost as if I was reading a historical romance with the ton- but in space. But then the last 30 pages my feelings turned. Everything seemed to be wrapped up so easily and the things that could not be resolved felt a little like it was swept under the rug and forgotten (even though it was a big part of the plot to begin with). I felt a little let down with the resolution and it felt like this was a really long book to get invest in to not have what I was looking for (and I don't feel like the love interest ever redeemed himself).

Overall this is high on the drama, angst and romance, but low on the mystery and sci-fi aspect. If you are looking for a romantic read that felt more like adult fiction than YA sci-fi then this is the perfect option
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I really enjoyed this book! It was a quick paced read that kept me interested the whole time. I could totally see it being a series, but would be fine if it were just a standalone as well.
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Final Rating: 3 stars

I thought this book was a lot of fun, and the concept immediately drew me in when I first read the synopsis. I hoped it would deliver, and on some fronts it did, where on others it seemed to fall flat for me, but that being said, I did enjoy it. 

This story definitely finds its niche in YA, and since I am on the older side of the target age, I found some of the content (in particular parts of the romance) to be a bit juvenile. That's not to say that people younger than me wouldn't enjoy it, but at 19, I'm hovering on the edge of YA's target age for stories such as these.

The skeleton of the story comes from Jane Austen's Persuasion, but it was updated into a space setting, which was really interesting to me as a concept, but sometimes it didn't feel 100% cohesive in the way the author tried to incorporate contemporary themes. 

I felt that the plot was really predictable, something I wasn't sure if it was just because I happen to be good at guessing or if everyone who read it had this experience. 

I did enjoy the characters,but at some points I did feel that they were a bit childish at some points in dealing with some of the issues at hand.

I did enjoy the writing style as well; I thought that it was extremely readable which allowed me to finish this book rather quickly. It's definitely an easy read. 

The lack of worldbuilding did bother me a bit; I felt that I was just being given the information needed to understand the story, not to understand the world. I really enjoy worldbuilding; its one of my favorite parts of a fantasy/sci-fi story and this one felt a bit lacking.

I did enjoy this story though and I would recommend it to a younger age group than my own, or at least someone a couple of years younger than me.
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It was a fun read and an interesting take on my favorite Jane Austen novel, but unfortunately shared the same issue I had with Brightly Burning: the writing just didn't do it for me. It was clunky, to the point that at times it interrupted my reading experience, and the narrative voice just felt awkward and very much like an adult trying on a teenager's voice, if that makes sense.
I'm still planning to give The Ivies a try to see if a genre change fixes anything for me, but overall I was disappointed to not enjoy this more, as I'm a big fan of Alexa.
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Set in a future where humanity resides on spaceships, we meet a princess whose ship is on the verge of financial ruin. Thus she must enter the season of Valg, in which the wealthy and single step out and every person is meant to seek out a match, preferably rich.

With a snail slow pace and predictable 'twists', it was the diverse characters that brought all life into this book. I'm thankful for the bantering, and the non stereotypical portray an orientations represented. Although underdeveloped as the characters were, it brought a whimiscal touch to an otherwise meh read.
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I read this book not knowing what I was going to get. Mainly as it sounded like the bachelorette in space and so thought yeah I am going to know the whole plot by chapter 6. 

How wrong I was, this was more the bachelorette means a murder mystery it was fast paced with complex character, a good romance story line and some interesting twist
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I received this as an eARC to read for free in exchange for my honest review. Thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group for giving me access. 

I love me a story set in space! The Stars We Steal was a fun story about a princess - that really isn't a princess anymore - having to be married off for money and finding love. 

The story was entertaining enough, but I wasn't 'wowed' by it. The characters were a bit dramatic about things and the story could have been more developed. Overall, I did enjoy it, but I wouldn't go out of  my way to read it a second time.
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I always enjoy Alexa Donne's YA adaptations of classics and this one was just as much of a gem as BRIGHTLY BURNING. The book is a take on PERSUASION set in space and it is very romance heavy in a teen way which is exactly what I'd market it as!
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Imagine that there was The Bachelor for members of the royal family in the TV show The Crown and it took place in space... and there were pirates... that is this story in a nut shell. It’s a fun read but you need to check your brain at the door. Then it’s each the very young YA dialogue and the explanations of the crazy spaceship world. There are star-crossed lovers, back-stabbers and betrayals. The main character is a bit holier than thou and entirely naive to the world around her but she is likable. It’s a space soap opera and if that’s your thing, you’ll love this. If it’s not you will still probably enjoy the light, whimsical read. 

3.5 stars for me.
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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.
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