Title: Red, White & Royal Blue
Author: Casey McQuiston
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release date: May 14, 2019
Page count: 421
My rating: ★☆☆☆☆
First things first, this is NOT a young adult title, it is New Adult. The author herself doesn’t claim it is young adult, but the bookseller who told me about it clearly saw the cutesy cover and assumed it was young adult (which is what I was looking for).
Secondly, I really really really wanted to enjoy this book. So much so that I purchased a copy, rather than getting it from the library (something I haven’t done in AGES because my bookshelves are entirely too full).
Basically, if I’m not planning on re-reading a book, then I borrow rather than buy. Now, here’s why I have buyer’s remorse…
The premise sounds SO good! Enemies to lovers is a trope I am ALL in for! Awkward trans-Atlantic, politically fraught romance! These are all really great things in my mind… but the execution leaves much to be desired, as they say.
The author either hates Republicans or really wants her readers to think she does and, judging by Alex’s way of thinking, Democrats can do no wrong and have basically saved America from itself. From the first chapter, the politics in this book are just… toxic.
Published at a time when the then-President of the United States was very controversial, Red, White & Royal Blue reads like some wishful, alternate universe fan fiction.
At the end of the day, there were these brief moments of really GOOD storytelling, writing that I wanted to see more of! But those moments were overshadowed by this desperate attempt to fix all of the ‘problems’ in the world… Really, I think it comes down to the author trying to do too much.
And you know what? She might have been successful, if it hadn’t been contemporary fiction. This book is supposedly happening now-ish and based in a believable world, but it just… isn’t. It’s such an idealized view of what the author wishes the world to be that it’s entirely lacking in enjoyment. Each time I read something I liked, it was instantly overshadowed by the ‘politics’ and my enjoyment was lost.
While this title has been seemingly well-received by the bookish community, I think it could benefit from some taking a step back and remembering that sometimes a reader just wants to enjoy a book and have it be an actual escape from the world in which they live.