Red, White and Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston | Book Review

2021, books

Hello!

Since I started my Audible subscription last month, I have used my monthly credits to listen to books I haven’t had the chance to buy yet (and it feels like I’m getting free books, which feels good!).

So when my credit came in at the end of September, I was browsing through my wish list on Storygraph to decide what I was going to use my credit on and as soon as I got to ‘Red, White and Royal Blue’ by Casey McQuiston, I knew that was my pick for the month.

I don’t know I’ve seen a book as hyped as I have seen RW&RB – on tiktok, Instagram, booktube, I don’t think I’ve seen a review less than 5 stars. A royal LGBTQ+ love story is a recipe for the perfect book right?

Yes, yes it is. I finished listening to this book in just two weeks (considering it was nearly a 12 hour listen and I only listen to audiobooks when I’m driving) and I was obsessed from the off.

The voice actor for Alex’s character was perfect – the charming First Son of the United States was the perfect mix of hardworking, ambitious politician and 22 year old college student just trying to figure himself out while journalists writes articles speculating every aspect of his life.

Then there’s Henry. This precious, posh British Prince who’s grown up being told about his obligations and duty, knowing that a core part of who he is doesn’t fit the ‘duty’ he is meant to serve. Behind all the bravado of being the Prince of England, he’s a giant nerd who loves Star Wars, the gay history of the British Isles and his dog David.

Even the secondary characters – the White House Trio, the super six, Zara, Amy, Cash, Shan – they were all such realistic characters. They felt real – if I didn’t know the unfortunate truth of the 2016 US Election and the names of the British Royal family, they all felt so human from just a few words on a page (or words coming out of my car speakers) that they felt real. The language was so authentic and didn’t sound forced, particularly the dialogue. The multi-medium storytelling with pros, texts, emails was so immersive and I’ll never get over the narration repeating ‘HRH Prince Dickhead Poop Emoji’ over and over again during the text message scenes.

I can’t put into words how much I adored this story – I have not laughed, gasped and commented out loud on a story as much as I did with Red, White and Royal Blue in a very long time, if ever. The sarcastic dialogue between Alex and his sister June, the authenticity of the President’s staff every time they tell Alex how fucking difficult he makes things and the honest conversations about being a Mexican kid raised in America and elevated to being America’s Most Eligible Bachelor.

It was honest and heartwarming and made me squeal like a fangirl – I’ve not finished a book and immediately wanted to read it again before, but after finishing the audiobook I went a bought a paperback copy almost immediately (and Casey McQuiston’s next book ‘One Last Stop’) and there’s a very real chance that I will read Red, White and Royal Blue again before working through the other two hundred books on my ‘to be read’ shelf.

Red, White and Royal Blue has made it on to my list of all time favourite books and I need somebody to fangirl over it with me please.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

my book rating system

2021, books

Hello!

I’ve just finished my thirtieth book of the year (Good Girl, Bad Blood – Holly Jackson, fabulous read) and I feel like I’ve really figured out my own rating system so I thought I’d write it all down because my memory isn’t great and I like to have everything written down.

So let’s start at the top:

5 stars – the perfect book; one that is easy to read, characters I love and care about and a story that I want to reread over and over again. It’s a slim difference between 4 and 5 stars but a book that I know I could come back to and love it as much the second or third time as much as the first. The perfect ‘Sophie’ book – 5 stars.

4 stars – a fantastic book, wonderful narrative, interesting storyline, an enjoyable reading experience that I probably got through quite quickly. There’s probably nothing wrong with it, I just didn’t love it enough to find it re-readable. A 4 star book is still an entirely positive experience – there was no negatives to the reading experience; no annoying characters, no huge plot holes, just not one that I’m rushing to read again.

3 stars – not a badly written book, not a brilliantly written book. Maybe it took a lot of concentration to get through it, maybe there were characters that really needed to learn how to communicate better (one of my biggest bug bears). I kind of feel connected to the character but I’m not entirely sure why and I probably resent it, especially if there’s one character I like or care about and the others are annoying.

2 stars – there’s nothing wrong with the quality of writing, it just wasn’t for me. I probably didn’t enjoy the reading experience but I’m too optimistic to ever not finish a book. Sometimes it’s the characters, sometimes it’s a boring plot, sometimes it’s whiny, melodramatic characters making their lives difficult for no necessary reason. Technically not a bad book, but absolutely not for me (this includes most classics).

1 star – badly written, plot holes, annoying characters, probably reads like bad fanfiction. I still won’t give up on the book because I can’t help but hope it’ll get better than a 1 star rating, but at best I can hope it’s short. I feel like one star is relatively self explanatory.

On StoryGraph, there’s .25, .5 and .75 ratings, I don’t have specific criteria for those, that one’s more of a gut instinct. Not that there’s a huge impact of rating a book, it’s not like it ‘matters’ in the scheme of things but it’s a good way of giving the extra points before a whole extra star, y’know?

Having some sort of system makes me feel like the ratings make me sense, rather than randomly assigning numbers and then accidentally rating a book I kind of enjoyed and a book I really didn’t both at 3 stars because I was only comparing it to the book I just finished.

Is it a Virgo thing or is it a neurodivergent thing? Who knows, but I like it. And I’m obsessed with reading and stories right now, so I like having a system to rate them all by.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx