American Royals by Katharine McGee
Release: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Random House for Young Readers
Source: Hardcover (US)
Rating: ★★★.5☆☆ (3.5/5)
Synopsis via Goodreads: What if America had a royal family?
When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne.
As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling.
Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her.
And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.
– S P O I L E R F R E E –
TW: terminal illness, cheating, bullying, death
Initially going into this novel I was so excited. The concept! It sounded fabulous and refreshing. I had never read anything like it before. While I’m not saying the story itself was necessarily bad, I do believe that the characters were a bit hard for me to vibe with. With that start, I would like to mention some things that I enjoyed about American Royals!
I really liked the world building. The prologue was probably one of my favorite chapters (if it even counts as one haha) in the book. I think that there are some hilarious moments throughout the story, especially when McGee hints at what our world is like now with presidency, democracy, etc. I think that the world she created was really lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed when she was setting up a scene or giving some background of how this version of the country was built. I also found myself learning so much about royalty (even if this royalty was fabricated). I don’t read too many contemporary stories about what it is like being in this sort of position so learning things about succession and customs that come along with the crown was super fun!
As for the story itself, I think it was definitely a bit of a slow start and it wasn’t until about halfway through where things finally picked up a bit. I think what made it hard for me to really get into the events was the fact that we were reading through the perspective of four different girls, which was very overwhelming to me at first. I was extremely apprehensive about this because I feared that because they were all female, their voices would start to sound the same. However, that was thankfully not much of a problem which is something I definitely commend McGee for. Each perspective brought a different set of personalities unique from the rest and it was interesting to be following one chronological timeline but through multiple views of it. I enjoyed how each of the girls’ story intertwined with the others while also being a separate journey for themselves. To be honest, I do believe that there may have been one too many perspectives and was always dreading a certain one more than the others (*cough* *cough* Daphne). I won’t say more on that though because ~spoilers~.
I do have to say though, the pros of having this many characters jammed into one story is the amount of tropes it has the potential to hold. We have the love triangle, secret relationships, enemies to lovers, and even the beloved stuck in a hotel room with only one bed trope. It felt as if this book was any contemporary-lover’s dream and the formula perfect dramatic romance. However, I think along the way I started to get a bit annoyed with certain characters and questioned why I even cared enough to root for them. That sounds really bad but I promise some of the characters did redeem my hope for the book in the end.
What also made me enjoy this book a bit more was that ending! I won’t dive deep into it, but let’s just say it’s a cliffhanger to go down in the books. It definitely made me want to pick up the sequel (which I will be doing at some point in the future) so I cannot wait to see how these characters and their relationships evolve from there.
Before I wrap up this review I want to discuss the diversity within this story. While I’m happy that one of the main characters was Latina and the daughter of a f/f couple, I still think there could have been more. It really bothered me that one of the only other people of color in this book was a Japanese girl who is in a coma (it gets mentioned in one of the first chapters so I promise it’s not a huge spoiler). I know that was an important part of Daphne’s storyline, but I think it was weird that this marginalized character was put in that position. That might just be me though? Definitely let me know what you guys think about this, I’d love to hear your opinions!
Ultimately, even if this book was a lot predictable and a little chaotic at times part of me really wants to enjoy the sequel. When I first got this book I was so so excited to dive into it because of the concept, plus the world definitely did not let me down. I am also very intrigued to see how this will play out after the events of the final chapter. I really hope the book redeems itself a bit for me, but who knows. I guess we shall see!
“How hard it was to be a woman in this world of monarchies, whose structures and traditions had all been built by men.”
“…a good queen learns from her mistakes, but a great queen learns from the mistakes of others.”
“Who said anything about forgetting? The point of forgiveness is to recognize that someone has hurt you, and to still love them in spite of it.”
“That was the thing about success, it could be even more draining than failure.”
“All she knew was that one day she woke up and her love for him was simply there, like newly fallen snow. Maybe it had been there all along.”
Have you read American Royals? If so, what did you think of it? If not, is this a book you think you’d enjoy?