Royals by Rachel Hawkins
Publication date: 03 May 2018
Genre: Contemporary YA
Page count: 304 pages
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
This review is spoiler-free
Although I don’t often read contemporary YA, I was looking for something a little different after reading some hard sci-fi and picked up Royals from the library. I actually had a lot of trouble rating this one, but ultimately settled on what is my first and, so far only, one star rating. This is going to be a pretty unpopular opinion, but hear me out.
On the one hand, Royals did exactly what it set out to do — it is a fluffy and fun summery YA read. However, I had some strong negative feelings about the whole approach to the book.
Meet Daisy Winters.
She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old with mermaid-red hair and a picture-perfect older sister who’s just got engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Yup, a real-life prince!
Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond.
Hiding from the flashbulbs is made all the more fun by a dashing boy called Miles who tries to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal.
But as a scandal engulfs the Royal Family during the full-beam of a royal wedding build-up, can Daisy rewrite the rule book to suit herself?
I was 100% here for some charming, Princess Diaries/fish-out-of-water/Meghan-Markle-has-a-little-sister fluff. But ultimately, the book was a big letdown, especially in terms of Daisy, and I think that’s where most of my issues with the book stem from.
One of the big issues I had with the book is that Daisy really fell into the ‘dumb American’ stereotype — something I absolutely despise. As an American who lives permanently in the UK, I really struggle with people making these kinds of assumptions about me and the way I act — you wouldn’t believe some of the things people have said to my face. I felt like Daisy was so incredibly disrespectful of everyone and everything around her — every interaction was an opportunity to show off how supposedly quirky she was, but instead managed to show what a disrespectful jerk she was. She really fell into that stereotype of the American abroad, trampling over customs and culture, speaking loudly and slowly so people will ‘understand’, and expecting everything to be exactly like it is back home — you know?
You know in The Princess Diaries where Mia ends up being totally cool and regal at the end, thus gaining the respect of everyone who didn’t believe in her? Or in What a Girl Wants, when Daphne bumbles through British life, but tries her best and stays true to herself, ending up totally charming everyone who doubted her? Daisy never had this moment. She proved the snooty aristocracy correct at every turn, and that’s what frustrated me. There isn’t a single moment where she redeems herself or her actions, thus robbing us of some serious character growth and excusing a lot of her previous behavior. Daisy gets so close to a turning point in her character when she has those moments of clarity around her sister’s actions, then she goes back to acting like an absolute dick.
I was also really excited for the sister relationship in this book, and I feel like we were robbed of that. Eleanor and Daisy are pretty much polar opposites and butt heads at every turn, so I was really looking forward to seeing them either have a blow-up fight or have a satisfying moment of resolution. However, they barely interacted during the entire book and when they did, it was so incredibly unsatisfying. Despite Daisy seemingly doing her best to be an asshole to her sister throughout the entire book — even while completely understanding why her sister wants her to act a certain way and just generally behave like a civilized human being — they never really do anything. Eleanor is a plot device that gets thrown aside in favour of Daisy’s exploits, despite having a really interesting and compelling story. I’d read the heck out of a novella starring Eleanor and Alex.
I’m being really hard on this book, and dear lord I hope the author never, ever sees this review, but for me it was just that disappointing. Although it’s a fast read for the summer, and I did finish it, I feel like Royals was such an incredible disappointment. I’m a little baffled, especially from an author who, to my understanding, is really interested in the British Royal Family and British culture in general.
Want to try Royals for yourself? You can find it at the following sites (affiliate links):