Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Red, White and Royal Blue is the best book I’ve read this year. No contest.
I wasn’t at all convinced by the blurb though. I mean, a clandestine love affair between the son of the American president and a prince of England? Really? But oh, how wrong I was. Red, white and Royal Blue is epic. I’ve never encountered quite this romance-wit-and-parallel universe-combination before. Hopefully McQuiston has started a brand new genre.
The story is set in a United states that has elected it’s first female president. The hero of the story is Alex Claremont-Diaz, the president’s son. He’s slightly neurotic, utterly outrageous, very perceptive and has the biggest of hearts. He eats, sleeps and drinks politics and thrives as the son of the First Family of America. Because he’s also somewhat of an attention whore.
But being the First son has the press comparing him to the English prince Henry. And Alex hates Henry. However, an incident involving a $75000 wedding cake, forces Alex and Henry to spend time together as a publicity stunt. They need to convince the public that they are, in fact, the best of friends. And what was essentially a pr coup, is the start of an actual long-distance, hate-love friendship between the two. When Alex slowly gets to know the real Henry, their friendship grows into the real deal.
But then Henry kisses Alex, and Alex likes it.
This is such a fabulous story. It has everything you could possibly wish for.
First off. It’s hilarious. I can’t remember the last book that had me laughing this hard.
Then, it’s all the characters. It’s literally impossible not to fall in love with them. Not only Alex and Henry, but their friends, family, staff and colleagues. They’re complex, smart and flawed. Everything’s all so very relatable – even though the setting is a parallel reality that involves a prince.
Also, the love story. It’s beautiful and unexpected. Against all odds. Which of course makes it even more swoon-worthy.
One of the most impressive parts of Red, White and Royal Blue is how McQuiston weaves the story into this exceptional political backdrop. I’m Swedish. I don’t really get the twisted American voting system where the most votes doesn’t necessarily translates to a win. And I’m not at all familiar with the ways of American national political campaigns and the like. But the political intrigue and the likeness – and difference – to specific real-world politicians was captivating. Essentially, it’s just absolutely awesome world-building.
To read Red, White and Royal Blue is an emotional roller coaster. I laughed, I cried and then I laughed some more. It’s amazing, heartwarming and brilliant. If you haven’t read it, you need to remedy that right now. I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up way longer than what’s healthy considering the time I need to get up in the morning. I read during breaks at work. I read while taking my son to the playground. And then, when I finished it, I was heartbroken that there weren’t any more chapters.
When I realised that this is McQuiston’s first novel, that there aren’t anything else available by her, I almost cried a little.
So, I have the worst book-hangover imaginable right now. I don’t know where I’ll find another story good enough to get me back to normal. Maybe I’ll just have to re-read Red, White and Royal Blue.