Review: Red, White, and Royal Blue

Katie Wilson

DISCLAIMER: This review mentions brief spoilers of the novel Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston.

The enemies-to-lovers trope (a word or expression used in a figurative sense) is present in Casey McQuiston’s debut novel Red, White, and Royal Blue. The third-perspective novel follows Alex Claremont-Diaz, the First Son of the United States, and Prince Henry of Wales (full name: Henry George Edward James Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor) in their journeys of self-discovery and romance. How does Alex go from “…he [Henry] has the personality of a cabbage” to “..and then I was a careless fool and fell in love with you anyway”? What happens when the Prince of Wales and the First Son of the United States fall in love? How will the world react? McQuiston’s Red, White, and Royal Blue answers these common questions, and more!

Red, White, and Royal Blue was published May 14, 2019; its continuation of popularity was a result of being shared on a popular social media app, TikTok, in late 2021. McQuiston’s novels are not marketed towards teenagers, considering their mature themes, but that doesn’t stop the book-obsessed teens, including myself, from diving headfirst into their novels. Although the novel is brilliant as is, it did feel quite unrealistic. Now, McQuiston’s novels are nothing more than silly, romantic-new adult fiction, but I imagine two lines: fiction, and “that would never happen” fiction. The strife relationship between Henry and Alex at the beginning of the novel is over-exaggerated, while the romance at the end of the book feels unmerited. I will admit, I did pick up this novel because of the main trope, but I feel the enemies section was rushed–it could have been more spread out.

As many negatives as there are, there are unquestionably more positives. McQuiston has a specialty in characterization, making the characters come alive in a way no other author can. Henry and Alex are not the only characters with ample personality in the novel. The best friends of the main characters, Nora and Pez have energy no novel can compete with.

After the release of the 2021 Netflix series Young Royals, there was a spike in popularity in McQuiston’s novel because of the similarity between the two. I have to admit, I did buy this book directly after finishing Young Royals to seek closure from the 6-episode series.

Hitting the New York Times bestselling list just one month after its release, Red, White, and Royal Blue has won two awards: the 2020 Alex Award and the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Romance and Best Debut. Now, The novel is in the works for a film with Tony award-winning writer Matthew Lopez directing.

Red, White, and Royal Blue is the easiest five-star read I’ve ever given. I had high hopes for this novel, and McQuiston did not disappoint. This tear-jerking, happy-crying, enemies to lovers LGBTQ+ novel is definitely for you.