It was the boy whose heart I’d broken and for whom my heart still fluttered – Alexa Donne.
A quick read of the blurb’s first few lines and I knew that this was a book I felt like reading. Young, unrequited love; another suitor; some sort of royal ball; money problems. I didn’t need to read the rest and I dived straight in. By the end of the first sitting (9.30pm – 12am), I had read half the book and was pretty much hooked.
The Stars We Steal is set in the far-off future when the entire world has evaporated, and our countries are spaceships that roam the galaxy. This narrative is set on the Scandinavian, where we are introduced to the most monumental time of the year: the Valg Season. To keep the royal and gentry lines pure, there is a season where all the high-class sons and daughters between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one must mingle and meet in a month of dates, dinners and galas. If, by the age of 21, you don’t meet a partner, you’re pretty much known as a cougar who is too old for the bachelors and bachelorettes of high society.
Princess Leonie Kolburg, preferred name Leo, is the protagonist of this story. She is a modern young woman who wants to make something of herself instead of marrying the most eligible bachelor with a tonne of money that will save her family from dire financial ruin. Throw in her long-lost love returning at the most inconvenient of times and it makes for quite the unrequited love story. Leo and Elliot were once engaged which she broke off a mere twelve hours later after her family refused to accept their prospect of marriage. He was the valet’s boy. She was a princess. It would never work. Yet now, he has his own ship and he is wealthy, but he has secrets of his own and a vendetta against the girl who broke his heart three years past.
Angst is a word I would use to describe the relationship between the two. It is the very typical love-hate relationship that I adore in young adult fiction. It just reminds me of being a teenager and reading these young love stories, wanting something like that to happen to me – because of course, I always wanted to be the heroine of my own story. There is a fire in Elliot’s eyes that refuses to turn to ash. Every time he looks at Leo, it is with disgust. In turn, she doesn’t let him win. At least, she doesn’t let him know that. In her heart, the truth remains. She still loves him, always has. The tip-toeing around each other and the constant on-off feelings are what I expected to see throughout this novel. Every time they were in the same room, it would be me who would get excited about what was about to happen. Nevertheless, I feel like there were a little too many scenes of the two accidentally bumping into one another or being in the same room at the same time despite the audible awkwardness. Even I wanted to wonder when they would collide into each other next.
The characters in this book are extremely flawed, but in the best kind of way. They are human in their galactic, futuristic spaceships who have had to protect their livelihoods for hundreds of years. Leo’s father is the perfect example. He is a king and yet he is a drunk, always pivoting around the ball and giving pointed looks to his eldest daughter who must save the family from ruin. And yet, there is an endearing side to his character that we only see briefly amongst all of his need for coffee, jewels and vodka – of which he cannot afford. Leo herself is a victim – or a crusader – to being flawed too. She blindly wears her heart on her sleeve for Elliot and she lets her heart choose over her head until she can’t any longer. It makes her human with emotions in a society that decides the best kind of partnership is through titles, money and any means that are necessary to themselves and their families. As for Elliot, his heart is in the right place at all times but his stubbornness as well as Leo’s almost cost them a future of broken hearts and the ruin of a friendship that has lasted their entire lives.
Central to this book is a theme that is very much the reality of the world we live in. There is a segregation between the rich and the poor where the rich refuse to see that the poor are suffering, starving, dying in the same hemisphere whilst the rich are getting richer. A revolt is about to happen in The Stars We Steal (something that never completely follows through which is a little disappointing come to think of it) and it sends tremors through the glitz and glam of the galas and parties whilst they drink their booze and eat mountains upon mountains of food. I would have liked to have seen more of the deaths, the hunger and the lack of visas for the poorer humans in the galaxy, especially through the eyes of Leo. Nevertheless, this book certainly came out at the right time to send a message about the evergrowing state of the distance between the rich and the poor, despite its futuristic charm and galactic fantasy.
I read this book in two evenings and even though I only finished it less than a day ago, I would happily read it all over again.
Love, Faye xo