I recently created a new shelf on my Goodreads page: Did Not Finish.
I know a lot of readers utilize a did-not-finish shelf or something similar, and until recently I didn’t feel the need to.
But lately, I have started and stopped a handful of books and I decided that in addition to adding them to this new shelf, I will still write up a short review of each.
Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
I was over one hundred pages into this book when I decided to stop reading. I liked the concept of this book, but there were a few issues that prevented me from finishing it.
The narration is a combination of both present and past tense, often in the same sentence. It is very confusing and distracting to say the least. The banter between characters feels forced and not realistic. There are endless stereotypes among the characters as well.
There is an immense amount of swearing in this book. This issue for me is less about the swearing and more about the swearing interrupting the story. Having characters swear for the sake of swearing doesn’t add to their uniqueness. It makes them less authentic to me.
Alex and June’s behavior doesn’t seem realistic to me. Their obsession with the tabloid magazine stories about them is not something I can actually the children of the President being as wrapped up in as they are.
Alex and Henry’s feud is based on, truly, nothing. For Alex to be as accomplished and busy with school and life as he supposedly is, his fixation on Henry didn’t seem plausible. I have never read fan fiction but actually, now that I’ve read part of this book, I think I have.
The emphasis placed on Alex and Henry having to pretend to be best friends is not something I could see as being a presidential priority; again, it has such a fan fiction feel to it.
Essentially, the idea of this book is what I liked but the execution is what made me dislike it. Yes Alex and Henry have some cute moments, but they are buried underneath a confusing writing style, an unrealistic plot, and both stereotypical and inauthentic characterization, on Henry’s part and the rest of the cast respectively.
I’ve seen reviewers mention that they didn’t like how political the story was. I wouldn’t call this book political at all. It’s political in the way that news these days is gathered from the headlines as opposed to reading the entire article; it was surface level politics that sounded like someone glanced over some headlines and added them into the story.
I kept hoping I would get more into this book because #diversebooks are important, but it wasn’t an Own Voices book and that alone made me hesitant to read it. Yes, we should champion diverse books, but this book is an example of why you can’t blindly cheer on just any diverse book. They have to be evaluated along the same lines as every other book.
Once I started to feel like I “had” to read it each day, I knew I needed to stop. Quite a few reviewers on Goodreads declared that this was the most over-hyped book of the year and ultimately the biggest disappointment. I would have to agree.
It was one big YIKES and will be the most recent book I point as an example as to why I don’t read overly hyped books.
Despite all of this, I know there will be readers who fawn of this book. Sadly, I won’t be one of them.