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 it’s existence.
Let me start by saying I listen to a lot of audiobooks. Audio dramas are something new to me. There’s no “she said” or “the door opened” at all. Instead, we hear a unique voice actor for each character and sound effects tell us supporting information that books would’ve described in text.
In general, audio dramas are fictional stories told in an audio (typically podcast) format. They can be ongoing stories broken into episodes or one-offs similar to a short story.
Much like I can appreciate gorgeous artwork in a graphic novel, the recording quality in Steal the Stars is just pristine. Each character has a unique and talented voice actor, the sound is crystal clear, and it feels like you can actually tell where everyone’s standing in 3D space while you’re listening.
And, you know, the story’s pretty great, too.
Like all of my favorite science fiction, Steal the Stars centers more around the human element than the technological. The story is less about aliens from outer space and more about two people struggling to reclaim some basic freedoms in their life.
The story is tightly plotted. The first few episodes set the military atmosphere and have a sense of wonder surrounding the mysterious alien held underground. We get to see just how harsh life can be for the government employees and how seriously Sierra takes its security. As interesting as this is, every little detail shown is chosen with care and often becomes more important than you’d think.
Everything is filtered through the perspective of Dak. We get access to her private thoughts and follow her around the base as if we’re hovering over her shoulder. Even though she already knows all the details about the base, we’re introduced to them alongside Matt Salem, who is new to Sierra at the start of the story. Most stories I’ve read would have Matt as the main character, but Steal the Stars was able to introduce us to the setting while still telling the story through Dak’s eyes.
One thing that bothered me was the “love at first sight” element to the romance. While I was happy with how the relationship developed and its role in driving the story, the way it began wasn’t satisfying.
Once it’s clear that Dak and Matt are going to try to steal the alien, the story becomes a mix between thriller and heist. I always enjoy reading about competent characters, and both Dak and Matt know exactly what they’re doing, even if we don’t at first. In the last five or six episodes, the tension cranks up and doesn’t relax until the end.
Steal the Stars was written by Mac Rogers, author of audio dramas such as The Message and LifeAfter, and produced by Tor Labs. For anyone interested in exploring the story in novel format, there’s a full-length book written to expand the story. Check out Steal the Stars, a debut novel by Nat Cassidy.