Reviews

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

kay_tee_em's review

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emotional medium-paced

4.0

samygeefox's review against another edition

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4.0

Was this a fanfic about otayuri from Yuri on ice? I’m convinced it is! I listened to it on audio and the reader was really into it. I was impressed.

booksarethebesttherapy's review against another edition

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5.0

Perfection. This book is laugh out loud funny while also addressing really important topics. I think this book strikes a good balance of rom com and heavy topics. Just be aware that some aspects could be heavy for some readers.

levilore_'s review against another edition

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emotional funny hopeful informative inspiring reflective medium-paced

bobbins03's review against another edition

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5.0

Just wow. One of the best books I have ever read. The prefect mix of romance, comedy, and real life rolled into one book. It is great to read a book with a main character who is a fellow bisexual, it has made me feel less alone. This is literally the prefect book for gen z. READ IT, YOU WONT REGRET IT.

baileycorrine's review

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emotional funny lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? N/A
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? N/A

5.0

lesemaus2303's review

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emotional funny hopeful reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0

rowanine's review against another edition

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funny hopeful inspiring lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.75

 Here's the thing...

A cutesy enemies to lovers, forced proximity thing is very cute, and the front half is really sweet and endearing. That being said, the idea that the actions of two twenty something boys and their ragtag league of Gen Z nepo babies have actual weight is so comical as to kind of ruin all the cheesiness that preceded it. 

Once their relationship is revealed to the royal family, the confrontation with the queen made her into a literal cartoonish villain! The mention of Britain's legacy of brutal imperialism gets thrown about so often that it becomes cheap and by the flippant and quippy way Alex degrades Britain by saying it, he saps the jab of any of its weight, all while not reckoning with America's less than stellar background. 
Britain has a deep history of conquering nations, stealing their artifacts and relics, and subjugating them in a way that can still be felt, even for nations who are no longer under the monarchy's rule. Alex has never personally felt the impact of colonialism, and the degree to which America was once a colony of Britain pales in comparison to the cultural impact on developing nations that don't have the benefit of being a present day global force. 
Sure, the queen is a stand in for a homophobic grandmother, all "back in my day" and "traditional values", but the problem with that is that she's not just a grandmother, she's also the QUEEN OF ENGLAND! Even Catherine standing up to her mother and threatening her hold on Parliament feels goofy. 
The players are simultaneously too overpowered (the actual queen of a long standing monarchical regime) while also being silly and bufoonish (a stern talking to and a vague threat are enough to collapse her power). Henry being a prince is only important in that it makes him unattainable and further forges the dynamic that starts the love story, but then when McQuiston actually has to acknowledge what being a prince means, it all falls apart.

Going off of that, it further calls into question: why are Henry and Alex so important? The royal family is not actually in charge of making political decisions. They are largely figureheads of traditional values who go out and play the part. That superficiality helps in the whole theme of facades vs authenticity. 
However, when it comes to the weight of expectations, it is kind of lackluster. Henry is a stand in for the actual Prince Harry, aka the spare. While Harry's latest actions have likely been looked down upon by the royal family in a similar way (choosing privacy, chosen family, etc over royal duties), Harry had his roguish days of being the playboy prince when he was younger. He's the spare, and I do think that Henry's position would make more sense if he were the direct heir. Philip really just exists to make another homophobic, duty bound villain for us to root against. While Henry does have certain expectations, the burden of the crown would be far less. 
The more specific question is: why are Alex and Henry's reputations SO paramount to their respective nations? Compared to Henry, Alex is nothing! He is not an actual member of a royal family or government body. Technically, Henry is fourth in line for the throne after his mother and siblings (excluding any potential children Philip/Beatrice could have one day). So, even though I think his role isn't as important as McQuiston wants it to be, he does have some actual claim to a position of power.
Alex is truly just a nepo baby, and while his actions may reflect negatively on his parents and their reputation as a family, he does not currently hold any real title or have any promised future title. He dreams of running for Congress, but he has no secured destiny that weighs upon him. Him having beef with the prince of England makes him look bad, sure, and whatever excuse can be made about America-Britain relations is all well and good, but ultimately, it makes the actions of two young men who, in the grand scheme of things, don't have that much real power, into a matter of international conflict. 
The trope is cute, but once you kind of grapple with the reality of global politics, it makes their forced proximity, slow burn whatever feel, yet again, comical. The idea that on top of their rivalry, their newfound sex lives would be so catastrophic is very silly. Why are we so concerned with this? The vague villain of monarchical tradition and the all American family values are superficial ways to explain it, but it still just feels like a story about two well off boys being burdened by the expectations of their respective roles, ignoring the reality that they're just NOT that important. 

One specific example that I found really annoying was when Alex is describing himself as "Texas's first son" while speaking to the crowd on election night. A) Why is the college graduate son of the president giving a speech? B) Why does being the son of the president make him in any way "Texas's son"? What things has he actually done for Texas other than be born there? and C) How did this go from a story about love being repressed by duty and tradition into some fantasy world about a infamously conservative state flipping blue???
I certainly understand the mentality behind it, and appreciate the idea that redlining and lack of education have made it so that large stretches of land have equal voting power as condensed cities in the South, but time and place!!! Why is Alex now some champion for the state of Texas? He spends so much of the story gallavanting about to see his boyfriend across the globe, working on his mother's campaign (a role he receieved solely because of nepotism), and feeling entitled to a life of politics he hasn't earned. Alex and his squad are a Gen Z marketing strategy, but the superficiality of the royal family at least has the courtesy to go to hospitals and start charities. I hate to give the fictional monarchy props, but literally what single thing has Alex done for America other than wax about Hamilton being bi in a leaked email thread??? That's not politics, that just means you've listened to the Hamilton soundtrack too many times!

The part that really gets me is the Rafael twist. We learn the obvious: that the Richards campaign was behind Alex's outing. We also learn two things that aren't as predictable but further add to the unintentional comedy: Rafael leaked it because he was doing a long con undercover mission to try and out Richards for being evil after having experienced his innapropriate behavior first hand, and also that Rafael entrusted this undercover whistleblowing with none other than the Gen Z granddaughter of the vice president.
So first, we have this idea that Senator Rafael Luna, an actual sitting member of Congress, is doing some game of 5D chess by simultaneously helping run a campaign purely out of spite, all while beefing with a twenty two year old nepo baby about being in the closet! The fact that Nora somehow is more trustworthy with sensitive documents like that than say, the FBI or Secret Service, is ridiculous. Regardless of whether you trust government agencies like that (which is not a prominent theme in this book), a young, fresh out of college, grand nepo baby would never be the most qualified.
Again, Rafael is not a real politician, but a cartoon schemer. He's such a fictional character, and it detracts from the inherent sweetness of a romance book. Even the hunky dory ending where Texas goes blue because Texans have some maternal/paternal feelings towards a mixed race bisexual boy who was outed is such a stretch! Richards falls behind in the polls because of his outing of Alex and for past innapropriate behaviors, and OBVIOUSLY, this book takes reality with a grain of salt, but it just feels like having reality would really help ground this book. If McQuiston didn't want to grapple with real issues like this, then why did they write about two political figureheads???

It all feels a little too neatly wrapped in a bow, and against all institutional odds, Alex and Henry find a way. Rather than being romantic and triumphant, their resolution feels deeply unearned, because the foes crumpled too easily. It doesn't feel like a win when it's easy to the point where it feels like cheating. Centuries of repression based traditions? Gone! A centuries long culture of systemic and at times violent homophobia in the South? Poof! It's gone!

Anyways, all that being said, the sweet parts were very sweet and it was a fun reread. I pick these things apart in a loving way. There's a lot to critique, but I don't think it stops it from being a fun read. Someone less analytical than me would probably thoroughly enjoy this book. The first time I read this, I really loved it, but rereading with a discerning eye, well, the word of the day is: COMICAL.

(Also the voice actor, Ramon de Ocampo???? He put everything into it. He ate it up! So obsessed, I owe him my life. I also learned he did the voice for the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books??? A man after my own heart! The true highlight of the whole experience was his voice acting!) 

kadijaaa's review against another edition

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5.0

lets get something out of the way… this is NOT enemies to lovers bc that lasted all of two pages (i’m not joking) however the progression of henry and alex’s relationship is incredibly cute and steamy and FUN. i am genuinely so excited to see this adaptation (uma thurman as ellen?! and let’s be honest nicholas galitzine as prince henry is a dream fan cast come to life so thank you casting directors

kaelaceleste's review against another edition

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5.0

this was sooo cute! this one has been on my list for a while now (like, since it came out) and with the movie coming out I finally decided to get around to reading and I really loved it!

I knew the premise going in so I knew what to expect for the romance part, but the rest of it actually really surprised me. I didn't expect there to be so much political talk (maybe dumb in hindsight lol) but I actually liked that a lot too. I had to suspend my disbelief just a touch at times but overall it worked really well. I even cried a bit for some reason when
SpoilerTexas turned blue lol...we'll see if life ever imitates art in that regard during my lifetime
Spoiler

There was just so much to like. A lady president! DC setting! Alex and Henry are SOOOOOO CUTE!!!!!!!!! I was smiling so much at their goofy little banter, it was so sweet. I also loved so many of the side characters - June, Nora and Zara were all so fun!

Overall a 4.5, just really heartwarming and great. I can't wait for the movie too! The casting looks so good and though I'm a bit curious about certain plot choices (June...) I think it'll be really fun. yay!