Okay, before I jump into this review I need to get this off my chest: this book is AMAZING!!!!
Truly, this book was a delight to read. It was a lot of fun, had me on the edge of my seat in the best moments, and kept me so hooked I couldn’t even put it down!
This book scores a 4.5/5 stars. It was honestly a nearly perfect read for me, and after finishing it I immediately wanted to read it all over again. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a fun romance, and especially to people really looking to escape our current reality and jump into a much kinder timeline. But without further ado, let’s jump into the meat of this review!
After having read a couple contemporary teen books in my youth about mid-Western daughters of politicians who just want to date the bad boy/boy next door, I was hesitant to go into this book knowing how heavy politics were within the plot. Honestly, I had nothing to worry about. The political aspect to this book was actually immediately comforting. What would our world have looked like if it went in the opposite direction during the 2016 US Presidential Election? What would it have looked like if it wasn’t even Hillary, but a brown woman? It was idealized, but also real. Racism and misogyny were not left out of the conversation, and when it came to the sexuality of our main character Alex and his counterpart Henry, the reality of being queer in high profile politics was included at great length. It all really added to the realism of the book, despite how fluffy and nice it felt to be able to step into this kind of alternate universe.
I had so much fun reading the enemies to lovers dynamic that Alex and Henry had, and the development of their relationship had me squeeing the whole way through!! I really loved how this aspect of the plot was used in conjunction with and as a part of the political narrative as Alex’s family prepared for the 2020 election. I also want to say that I was live-texting my reactions to this book to a friend and I remember telling them that I knew the emails would come back to bite them (a little too real huh?) as soon as I read them, and while I didn’t want that to happen I was glad to have been right. I was yelling at my book about how risky it was for them to be doing that, and I really think that just shows how invested I was in the book.
All in all, their relationship was just so adorable, and I truly couldn’t get enough of them. They were so sweet to each other, which gave me the biggest heart-eyes ever. I will say an issue I had with this was that the timezones weren’t looked over in more detail as there were some places where Alex and Henry were talking about it and it was off by a few hours, but it was all so wonderful, and you bet I punched the air when they chose each other in the end :’)
As for the political aspect of the plot, I found it interesting and breathtaking to read, in the sense that I was really on the edge of my seat the whole time. I love a good mystery, and learning about the ways that characters like Nora and Rafael had such a key role to this was incredible. This book is full of strong women, too, and it was a pleasure to get to know them and see all the important roles they played. Was the political aspect super realistic? No, but I don’t mind that. It was riveting and exciting, and the characters were amazing enough to hold it and shape it beautifully.
Storytelling, Pacing, & Style
I wanted to put all these sections together for this review as I loved them all equally, and my love for them really played off of each section. The storytelling was brilliant, the pacing was great, and the style was everything I love in a story.
The book never left me bored, and I never felt like it was dragging. The pacing made it so there wasn’t ever too much information or too much happening for me to process, and it was written in a way that wasn’t complex or confusing for no reason, but detailed and skilled enough that there wasn’t an amateur vibe to it.
One of the things I actually love the most about this book is that it read like a lot of the amazing fanfictions I’ve read. It was character-driven, but the plot wasn’t pushed into the background and forgotten about, and you got to know the world and characters in a way that wasn’t just having information thrown at you – it was gradual, like when you ease yourself into a pool starting with the tip of your toe and moving slowly to finally be completely immersed in the water. McQuiston is an incredible writer and I’m so excited to read more of their works!
This book was fun, emotionally evocative, and ultimately one of the best books I’ve read all year. I had such a blast with this book, and I know it’s going to be one of those stories I come to for comfort when I need it. It made me feel so much happiness, to be able to escape into this incredible little world.
I recommend this to anyone, and if you’re reading this and have read Red, White, & Royal Blue let me know what you thought in the comments below!