First Lines: You already know the story of the American Revolution, and the birth of the American monarchy. You might know it from the picture books you read as a child. From your elementary school performances–when you longed to play the role of King George I or Queen Martha, and instead were cast as a cherry tree.
Man, I’m really on a roll reading these 2019 Goodreads Award Nominees, aren’t I? This book I actually only discovered because of the Goodreads Awards. I’m a huge American history buff and the Revolutionary War is my bread and butter. Twisting the history on its head to tell a different ending? Sounded fun.
When America won the Revolutionary War, the people offered the crown to George Washington. Two hundred and fifty years later, his family still sits on the throne. Princess Beatrice is poised to be the first female ruler of the country–and that responsibility is stifling. Princess Samantha is largely ignored, being the “spare.” She’s most known for causing trouble but now…all she wants is the one boy she can’t have. Of the royal siblings, the last is Prince Jefferson, Samantha’s twin brother. A generation earlier, he would have been the next king before his sisters. Most of America is in love with this good-looking prince, but there are two girls in particular doing everything to win his heart.
The story is told from multiple perspectives, specifically 4 girls. We have Princess Beatrice, Princess Samantha, socialite Daphne, and Samantha’s commoner best friend Nina. These 4 girls all had very different perspectives on life, the crown, and the trappings of royalty. The interwoven quality of the story by constantly shifting between these four was probably one of the best things about this book. We got to see royal life from so many different angles.
As much as I despised one particular character (and it was the fiery hatred of a thousands suns), I thought the characters were well written. I can hate them and still admire the writing. Anyway, each character had their own struggle. Beatrice is next in line for the throne and is constantly watching every action she makes. Samantha, the spare, constantly feels like she’s being criticized and quickly forgotten by everyone. Daphne has designs on winning Prince Jefferson’s heart. And Nina struggles with feeling like a second-class citizen around her best friend.
The plot is also well written, as I constantly thought the story was moving. There was maybe one section that I got bored with a little, but most of the story was interesting and pretty fast-paced. With so many conflicts going on, it kind of had to be to keep them all moving.
I’m still not totally sure how I feel about an American monarchy (it’s so anathema to what America was built on), but I did appreciate the little digs and comments about the shortcomings of democracy in the story. I found those moments to be the book equivalent of breaking the fourth wall and that was entertaining. Because let’s be real: there are some downsides to every form of government ever formed. This pointed out the flaws in monarchies as well, to an extent.
While we’re kind of on this topic, I just want to say that the world building was phenomenal. You wouldn’t necessarily think about it because it’s not a “fantasy” novel, but it kind of is. It’s an alternate history, creating a world that simply doesn’t exist to us. Therefore, it needs world building to make the monarchy feel real. And boy does it ever.
What I didn’t like so much was that at times I felt like as the reader, I was left out of the story. There are a few things I still don’t really feel like were explained well. And while it’s probably accurate of a royal court, I found some of the characters to be really catty and manipulative. I’m not a fan of those characteristics in anyone–fictional or not–and that made it very difficult for me to really focus on those parts of the story. Parts of the story read exceedingly like a soap opera, especially since there is one detested character who has no moral compass whatsoever. Like, this person is practically a Disney villain, plotting revenge and scheming the whole story.
Also, why is this marketed as YA? All of the characters are at least 18. Beatrice is 21. I’m confused by this.
But overall, I did enjoy this story. I’m really excited to see what happens next for these characters.