ARC provided by St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review.
What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this book? I absolutely loved it. It is delightfully Gay- in both senses. As a queer reader, I find it difficult to relate to a lot of romance novels or really get into them. But this book is easily one of my favourites of the year.
When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse
Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper and more dangerous than either Alex or Henry could have imagined....
I absolutely loved the inciting incident, I was initially under the impression that it would be something terrible that the protagonist would have to spend the whole novel fixing but instead, it bowled me over laughing. And that's the thing about this book. It was actually funny. I laughed out loud more than once reading this and that almost never happens. Casey McQuiston capitalizes on millennial humour and culture without being cringe-inducing or making up new words to replace a trend that died three months ago. This is a funny book about funny people written by a funny person.
But not only that her writing was personal, intimate and heartwarming. To see a story so romantic and outright LGBT friendly still shocks me, nothing about this book- for me, was fetishizing or uncomfortable like a lot of other Male/Male romances that I have read. It felt like a love letter to the gay community, Alex figuring himself out will be relatable for a lot of readers.
Diverse characters litter this novel and if I were to discuss every aspect of it then I would be writing an essay- not a review. Alex is bisexual and mixed race, Henry is gay, Nora is queer and it's implied that a lot of the other characters are too. (Overall just really good representation). Addiction, politics and the downsides of celebrity are all explored at length. The theme of grief also runs through the novel and I think it was handled very well for New Adult book. The discussions felt mature, realistic and the way the characters acted really emphasised that they were still struggling with it. I think it was an important part of the story and I would like to read more books that cover the topic in a similar way. (I recommend The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R. Pan for a YA Contemporary that tackles the complexity of grief.)
Every character is distinctly complex and likeable. Alex is the best kind of an asshole, June is bold, Nora is strikingly smart and Henry is literally Pince Charming and by the end of the book they've all changed completely. Even their parents are first-class characters. That's something I really enjoyed about the book. The parents were involved in their children's lives and didn’t just let them swan around and bugger everything up. Actions had consequences.
But, it isn’t without its flaws. While I enjoyed the romance very much but I didn’t realise the book took place over such a long time scale. This didn’t take away from my enjoyment of it but sometimes I just missed the time skips and it felt slightly jarring when scenes changed so quickly. Although, I did receive an ARC so this may change in the final copy. Then that will be ‘History, huh?’
Overall, I loved the book and I intend on buying it as soon as it comes out on the 14th of May 2019.
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