Monday, September 30, 2019

American Royals by Katharine McGee

Somebody was comparing AMERICAN ROYALS to CRAZY RICH ASIANS, and I think to do so is really unfair because CRAZY RICH ASIANS tapped into a lot of dialogues about race, class, and culture that AMERICAN ROYALS doesn't really do. Oh, it tries, but if anything it's just a thought experiment designed to write yet another frothy story about princesses. And if that's your cup of Earl grey tea, more power to you, but I think it's dangerous-- and disappointing-- to build AMERICAN ROYALS to be anything other than what it is: mindless fluff.

AMERICAN ROYALS takes place in an alternate universe where Washington did agree to be America's new King, leading to a lineage of nouveaux royales called "the Washingtons." There isn't really a plot-- it's entirely character-driven, and most of that character development revolves around drama, drama, drama. Dating, marriage, secret relationships, catty mean girls, and revenge, oh my. This has more angst and big misunderstandings than your favorite K-drama. And just like a K-drama, the interactions between the characters make up all the story line.

I'm including a brief summary of character bios that contain **very light spoilers**

👑 = royal

⚪️ = common

🎩 = rich and upper-class but not part of the royal family

👑 Beatrice is the heir to the crown. Everything is riding on her to be the perfect American princess. In the eyes of her family, it seems like she can do no wrong. All that's left for her to do is marry well and make her parents proud... but the true love of her life isn't someone her parents would approve of.

👑 Samantha is the spare and the prodigal wild child. She's spent her whole life in her big sister's shadow and always feels like she can do nothing right. She's in love with a handsome young noble named Teddy, but to her horror and heartbreak, Teddy is one of the suitors in her sister's lineup.

👑 Jeff(erson) is Samantha's twin brother, and Beatrice's younger brother. He also has a wild streak, but because he's a boy, he gets away with a lot of the things Samantha does not, and everyone just says he's sowing his wild oats. Many girls hope to snag him and have him make them a princess, but he's not too socially keen and has two girls fighting over him: a gold-digger and a childhood friend.

👑 Teddy is one of the noble lords Beatrice might marry. It seems like he's Beatrice's top choice, but he's actually in love with Samantha. It's not clear how far he'd go for power, even at the cost of love.

🎩 Daphne is Jefferson's ex-girlfriend and a self-made noble. She's spent her whole life molding herself into princess material and is determined to snag her ex back at any cost. But she has some very dark and sinister secrets under her designer belt that could wreck everything she's strived for.

🎩 Ethan is Daphne's friend and accomplice, and would like to be so much more. He knows all of her secrets and has the power to ruin her, but he'd rather she date him instead. 

⚪️ Connor is Beatrice's bodyguard. The two of them are attracted to each other, but they can never be... or can they? *I Will Always Love You* intensifies in the background.

⚪️ Nina is the daughter of the royal cabinet minister and childhood friend to Samantha and Jeff. She is also in love with Jeff, but he's a stupid mcstupidson and doesn't realize that his ex-girlfriend is playing a long con to get him back. Nina isn't prepared for fame or infamy in the slightest, and when her romantic ventures with Jeff break the news, she isn't prepared for it in the slightest.

Now you know the backstory, and if you think those are spoilers-- NOPE, not really. That's just everything you need in your toolkit to understand this 400-page drama fest and why these characters continually make stupid decision after stupid decision. I won't lie and say it wasn't entertaining, because it was, but 400 pages made this book seem really long without much in the way of plot, and it ends on the biggest cliffhanger ever, so by the time you get to the end THERE'S NO CLOSURE.

I think if you're a fan of Meg Cabot, K-dramas, and drama for the sake of drama, you'll probably like this book. But don't go into this book expecting a heavy plot or serious topics. It's pure froth, and while that might not be my cup of tea, you may find that it could quite possibly be yours.

P.S. All the heavy winking at "wow, isn't monarchy so much better than the utter chaos that would be an American democracy?" got really irritating. Monarchies have their own problems, hierarchically-based caste systems being one of them. So don't get high and mighty with me, book. Just don't.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 

3 out of 5 stars

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