Book Review: THE STARS WE STEAL (2020) by Alexa Donne
Updated: Jan 6
A few weeks ago, I won this Persuasion-meets-the-Bachelor-in-space novel in a Twitter raffle--and it hasn't even been released yet! Stay tuned as I dish out the deets on this juicy and dramatic romance.
Leo's not your typical space princess. She's stubborn, smart, and concerned with more than tiaras and ball gowns. In fact, she'd like to patent her water-filtration system to save not only her family's financial crisis, but mankind's depleting resources. Time is of the essence, as her father is pressing her to marry a man with wealth. If Leo had had it her way, she'd have married a boy named Elliot three years ago. They'd even been engaged, but not for long--Leo's father had vetoed the match on account of Elliot being the valet's son. But what happens when Elliot shows up three years later with wealth and prestige of his own (not to mention dashing good looks that impel Leo's sister and cousin to pursue him unabashedly)? He aims to make Leo's life miserable as revenge for breaking his heart.
Donne's writing style is beautiful! She stays true to Austen's literary writing style, but modernizes it for twenty-first-century readers by adding in colloquial phrases and profanity. The result is graceful, fluid prose that kept me engaged--if not surprised--through and through.
I felt like my jaw was dropping on every other page. Everyone has secrets, and Donne does an excellent job of dropping bombs at just the right moment. Sometimes I had to put the book down, just to take it in.
There was also a lot of inner-squealing going on because of all the secrets and cute moments and drama.
There isn't a dull moment. Everything feels relevant. While the concept of the book is pretty fluffy, the actual writing is not. I absolutely cruised from chapter to chapter and had a difficult time putting down this book (or keeping track of time).
I can't go into detail without spoiling everything. But it was mindblowingly insane. I loved it to death.
I wouldn't say I was absolutely in love with any of the characters--except Daniel, whom I adored. I had positive feelings toward the protagonist (Leo) and admired her intelligence, responsibility, and confidence. She was discontent with marrying for money and political connections but ultimately would do it for the sake of her family (in the case of her water-filtration idea failing).
The only thing that was slightly problematic about her was her subtle hypocrisy. It's obvious she looks down on her father for his drinking problem (he's stumbling around drunk for most of the book), yet she downs multiple drinks whenever her situation becomes stressful. Now, I'm not saying this is unrealistic or even bad (every character should be flawed, of course, and I can admit booze is a good way to shake up scenes), but I wish Leo had been aware of this flaw and acknowledged the dangers of using alcohol as an escape, especially as an underaged character. Donne could have circumvented this slightly by changing the drinking age to eighteen (via the new rules in space or whatever), but I still felt uncomfortable with the underage drinking in nearly every scene.
The Ending (spoiler-free)
Since there are Bachelor-like elements to this book, there are love webs (rather than love triangles) everywhere, which is fabulously entertaining. In the last quarter of the book, Leo is faced with two suitors. Without going into detail to spare you the spoilers, she didn't end up with who I wanted her to end up with. I knew who she would end up, of course, but I wasn't convinced their "happy ending" was a good idea. Her other option was a perfect gentleman and would have been a great husband, supporter, and advocate for her. Instead, this guy's left high and dry. I wish he'd at least have ended up with someone at the end. He deserved better.
Aside from this disappointing--albeit expected--decision, the rest of the ending had me scratching my head a little. I was a little confused, to be honest, with how everything was solved after the crazy, gasp-worthy, head-spinning climax. I wanted more closure, I suppose. It felt rushed to me.
My rating (out of 5):
From early on, I was almost certain I would give this book five stars. Unfortunately, Donne didn't stick the landing for me. Regardless, it's an addicting read and I highly recommend it! Look for it when it comes out on February 4th! I seriously loved this book so much, the score is closer to a 4.5.
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