The Stars We Steal

HMH. Feb. 2020. 400p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781328948946.
Gr 7 Up–This futuristic retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion follows Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg as she participates in the Valg Season, a ritual for young nobles from around the galaxy to find spouses. Leo’s family has a title and a spaceship, but financial problems have put them at risk of losing both. Leo hopes to save her family with profits from her water filtration system design, but her father insists she find a wealthy husband. Leo’s younger sister Carina and cousin Klara are more willing participants in the Valg. To earn money, the Kolburgs have rented out their spaceship to tourists, including Leo’s ex-fiancé, Elliot, who left after she broke off the engagement due to her family’s disapproval of his low status. Elliot has since become wealthy, and he becomes an object of affection for both Carina and Klara. Cue the flirting, scheming, bickering, secrets, misunderstandings, breakups, and makeups. Though romantic intrigue will keep readers turning pages, important plotlines involving a starving lower class are left unresolved. The ending is rushed and lacking. Feminists intrigued by Leo’s scientific aspirations will be disappointed to find that her happy ending is, ultimately, marriage. Romance is primarily limited to flirting, dancing, and kissing. Teen characters frequently drink alcohol, which is accepted in their faux pre-Victorian high society. There is queer representation among secondary characters, including one asexual teen.
VERDICT This soapy, slightly problematic romance is Jane Austen meets The Bachelor, told in space. A general purchase recommended for fans of Kiera Cass.

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