Steal the Stars is a story presented in podcast format. It was written by playwright, Mac Rogers, and performed by a full cast actors. After the success of the podcast, it was adapted into a novel, written by Nat Cassidy, one of the actors featured in the original podcast. This is only a review of the original audio-story format.
Steal the Stars is the story of Dakota Prentiss and Matt Salem, two government employees guarding the biggest secret in the world: a crashed UFO. Despite being forbidden to fraternize, Dak and Matt fall in love and decide to escape to a better life on the wings of an incredibly dangerous plan: they’re going to steal the alien body they’ve been guarding and sell the secret of its existence.
I love podcasts, but audiobooks are a bit hit and miss for me. I’m picky about the audio-format, and sometimes I’m surprised by which books work for me and which don’t (when they work, I’m all in!). So, needless to say, I was skeptical about Steal the Stars, but after hearing it be highly praised on the podcast Writing Excuses, I had to give it a shot. I’m SO glad I did.
Scripted podcasts are a breed of their own. In many ways, this felt more like listening to a play than an audiobook. There’s a large cast and the voices were all distinct, but not in the hyperbolic way that you sometimes encounter with audiobooks that have one voice working triple-time to voice all the characters. There’s also a lot of sound effects to give a sense of space and environment to each scene, which really brings the story to life in a way that straight audio usually can’t. This is CRUCIAL to the world-building since the story is one of hard sci-fi.
The story takes place in a secret government facility, occupied by “lifers” who have various military backgrounds and find themselves with no where else to go. The stakes are high and the rules are strict. Everything is top-secret. So when a high-up and a new guy fall hard and fast for each other, the obstacles are mostly life and death.
What I really appreciated was the realism created by multiple conversations and exchanges between characters with lives so different from my own. Most of what I know about life after combat is shaped by popular culture, so I can’t speak to how accurate this portrayal is. But, based on my limited knowledge, it felt real. The conversations felt candid and I was constantly aware that: 1) I was an outsider and they weren’t going to be polite for me; and 2) They all understood each other, so it didn’t matter if I didn’t understand them. I just felt like a fly on the wall – and on that note, the sex scenes worked surprisingly well, too. All in all, it was a voyeuristic experience without the voyeur part – I guess eavesdropping would be more accurate.
As for the romance, it’s never been my genre, but in this context it was fine. I had to suspend belief to accept that two people could fall so in love so quickly, but that’s okay. There was a lot to keep me intrigued. The mystery-element with the secret UFO was well-paced and once Dak and Mat decide to risk everything to be together, I was hooked by the intensity of it all: What will happen next?! Will they get caught?! Will they be arrested? Will they be killed? And the ending… what a twist! Did not see that coming.
It was a wild ride that I’d highly recommend to lovers of sci-fi, thrillers, and romance. I give it a 4.5/5.