I was convinced to pick this book up by
It’s been about 300,000 years since the 2016 election, and so much has happened that I think I’ve just locked up all the anger and frustration in a tiny little box and shoved it under my bed. This book unlocked the crap out of it.
I love science fiction. I read Issac Asimov and watch Star Trek and I have never in my life wanted more badly to live in the fictional world I’m reading. Really. I’d take this over replicators. Because in Red, White, and Royal Blue, the First Family is a blended family, with mixed race kids who get to celebrate their mixed culture but not be defined by it. The President is a progressive woman who put herself through law school and a divorcee no less. This book follows her campaign for reelection in 2020, and I have to tell you, there was some unexpected grief reading this book. Grief because this is not our world. Not even close. Grief, because exactly as you would expect from a romance novel, things turn out blissfully well. Henry and Alex get to be out and together and no one is kicked out of their family and no government collapses because two young men love each other.
Henry continuously acknowledges all the problems inherent in the monarchy. The fact most of the stuff in their museums is stolen from colonized countries, that their wealth was built on centuries-long theft. Alex points out that the White House was built by slaves. That there is racism in Democratic States (this is not a Red State Problem). This book doesn’t ignore reality. What it tries to do instead is remind us that history matters, and that people can and have always tried to use what they could to find happiness and to make the world better than how they found it.
It is a deeply optimistic book but it feels like an optimism that belongs to a different world. A world where there aren’t kids separated from their families living in cages, where hundreds of thousands of people haven’t died needlessly from preventable illness, where thousands of people haven’t been out in the street protesting daily for their right to exist in peace, where accepting the guidance of experts isn’t mocked, where a person who did kick the cobwebs off the monarchy wasn’t effectively run out of the country because she didn’t look like what a British royal is “supposed” to look like.
This book is utterly lovely and funny and smart as hell and I hate it and I’ll probably read it again a bunch. But only after the election.
Side note – the narrator (Ramón De Ocampo), if audiobooks are your thing, is one of the best I’ve ever heard except that he pronounces .gif the immoral way and must therefore be shunned.