A young woman learns that politics and love can be ruthless games in Alexa Donne’s The Stars We Steal.
Centuries in the future, humanity lives on national fleets of spaceships, some in luxury, others starving to death on overcrowded heaps of junk. Princess Leo Kolburg, her sister Carina and their father, a bankrupt royal, make their home on the Scandinavian, thanks to the generosity of its commander, Captain Lind, who happens to be Leo’s aunt. While on board, Leo and Carina must participate in the Valg, an antiquated matchmaking event. Leo has no desire to marry, but if she can’t find an investor for her water-filtration system, she might not have a choice.
When Leo’s ex-fiancé, Elliot Wentworth, arrives on the Scandinavian, wealthier and wiser than when they parted, she must unpack her complicated feelings toward him, even as her sister and cousin vie for his affections. In the meantime, Captain Lind runs for reelection in a bid to preserve her ship’s luxury status.
At first glance, The Stars We Steal seems like a mere sci-fi retread of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, but Donne has rooted her story in a thoughtful exploration of how politics and corruption remain intertwined even hundreds of years in the future. Like today’s teens, Leo and Elliot are forward-thinkers who find themselves at odds with the establishment, and they’re willing to fight any change that comes at the expense of the impoverished and disenfranchised.
Add in a murder, blackmail and betrayal, and readers are in for one heck of an interstellar ride.