Red, White & Royal Blue has the merits and demerits of a piece of fanfiction.
If you LOVE tumblr and you want to read about two hot guys making out, look no further (added bonus if you are American, because there are an abundance of cultural references —almost one every page—that went over my head).
I will try to break down the reasons why I wasn’t able to enjoy Red, White & Royal Blue :
One of the biggest ‘drawbacks to me was that the tone of the novel kept vacillating between being a light & fluffy YA to a steamier NA.
The story seems to shy away from tackling political issues seriously, which I can understand, given that this is mean to be a “romcom” but towards the end the story tries to make it seem like Alex actually cares about his country so there is a sketched out impression of his mother’s campaign.
The story fails to depict realistic political parties or issues. The simplified depiction of “good guys vs. bad guys” assigns the characters in either the “progressive (super uber good)” and “traditional (aka villainous grinches)”. I’m far from conventional but the way in which the royal family is portrayed to be laughable (I’m not even a fan of the royal family but I found McQuiston’s portrayal of it to be ridiculous).
Also, the way in which Britain and British culture are depicted is full of not so funny clichés. I got the impression that the story elevated America and made fun of Britain. I don’t really like a lot of Brit things (especially a lot of Britain’s history) but it didn’t seem fair for it to be the ‘joke’ of the novel. Also, Brexit was only mentioned once! WTF. Wouldn’t Henry want to talk about it more?
CHARACTERS: ARE THEY ADULTS OR ARE THEY
A lot of the female characters (Alex’s sister, his best-friend, his bodyguards, and his mother) are interchangeable with one another. Really. They all incredibly supportive, passionate, and have a no-nonsense attitude towards everything. They often speak a weird ‘tumblr/woke’ jargon that just grated on my nerves. Just because they swear doesn’t cancel out the fact that everything else they say sounds unbelievably soppy or make them into believable adults.
I didn’t believe a single word anyone said. This is not what real people behave like (even by romcom standards).
It happens far too quickly! They are already ‘lovers’ by the 30% mark. Arch-enemies ? Enemies? Where!
Maybe I would preferred the romance more if it hadn’t been reduced to how hot/cool they are. I guess ‘aesthetics’ or whatever…
Maybe because I found both Alex and Henry to be…unrealistic..I didn’t care for their relationship. These two just DO NOT sound like grownup men. I see a lot of readers and papers making fun of the way men write women but I think it goes both ways. These two lovebirds do not sound/act like twenty-something young men. The author writes ‘men’ that can appeal to young girls.
My advice: just read a Draco/Harry fanfic.