Friday, March 6, 2020

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

DNF @ 30% 

Hey, did you know that this book is actually a love triangle? It's not just a love story between Alex and Henry. It's a love story between Alex and Henry and everyone on Tumblr. I have not read a book that wallows in its own sense of self-importance since, well, ever. This book won a Goodreads Choice Award. I had assumed it would be good because of that. But then again, SJM books also win GCAs and we know how I feel about those.

RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE (where's the Oxford comma? I hate this book already) is a romance between the son of POTUS and the son of the royal family. If you would think that means serious political issues are going to be discussed-- HA! Think again. Instead it's falling into $75,000 wedding cakes and trading pop culture references about Harry Potter and Star Wars.

RW&RB is a book that wants to let you know it's really, really hip. All of these references are going to mean nothing in ten years, but right now everyone is just nodding their heads and saying, "Yes, so topical!" When really, it's about as topical as a hemorrhoid cream. It reads like fanfic. I wouldn't be surprised if this started out as fanfic, but even if it didn't, it has that vibe. That vaguely fetishistic vibe that some books about gay men have that really bothers me, because it feels like they rely on stereotypes and head cannons and less about creating actual, realistic characters who are having an actual, realistic romance.

Henry and Alex are both SO IMMATURE. They have zero common sense, zero social savvy. Considering that they're both children of major heads of state, you would think that there would actually be some intelligence and grace somewhere in there, but no. Their "charm" consists of sarcastic grade school insults that we're supposed to believe is witty banter, and we're supposed to relate to them because they watch TV shows and read books that appeal to the 18-39 demographic, eat ice creams in the middle of the night, and use emojis! OMG THIS CHARACTER IS SO ME, A MILLENNIAL, AGE 18-39! I FEEL SEEN!

The female characters in this book, as others have pointed out, are all interchangeable. They are all basically stand-ins for the female audience, fawning over these two male characters, SHIPPING THEM SO HARD, and basically acting as the soulless Karen pod people they are, who all evolved from a single spore that bloomed out of a Harry/Draco fic on circa 2004.

I. Hated. This. Book.

I hate being pandered to, and I hate books that masquerade as intellectual and witty when they are, in fact, rather dull and unexceptional. If you want to read a good m-m romance that explores politics and fame while also being a provoking and incredibly romantic love story, read THE GRAVITY OF US (it's #ownvoices!). If you want to read vaguely fanficcy trash that at least doesn't pretend to be anything other than it is (i.e. vaguely fanficcy trash), read THE CAPTIVE PRINCE (warning: triggers abound). But if you want to read the "I'm vegan because I read the title of an article about free radicals in People magazine, and get all of my news from BuzzFeed articles and The Young Turks" version of an m-m love story, by all means, pick this up. #Bye

1 out of 5 stars

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