BAYA Book Review

Majesty by Katharine McGee

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McGee, Katharine. Majesty. American Royals – Book 2. Random House, 2020. 374 p. ISBN: 9781984830210. $18.99. MS, HS, OT ****

American Royals (Book 1 of American Royals series) ended with the death of the King and the sudden realization that Beatrice will be queen. Majesty picks up shortly thereafter with Beatrice as queen and the palace abuzz with news of the royal wedding. Princess Samantha is trying to find a way to harness her jealousy, while best friend Nina is just trying to get back to an ordinary life after the demise of her relationship with Prince Jefferson. They each have heartbreaks to heal and a new sense of urgency as they are rushed through growing up. Will they go back to comfortable, safe relationships and friendships? Or will they take risks to realize the futures they have so far only imagined? All four of these characters were barely done being kids in book one and here in book two they are thrust into an adulthood they haven’t fully prepared for. Drama, romantic entanglements, responsibility, and palace grandeur collide! 

The first book in this duology was basically a frothy romance with a few interesting alternate history twists. But in this follow-up, McGee brings more substance to the narrative. The story itself is more nuanced as characters explore their romantic relationships with more maturity and a better balance between obsessive want and longing on the one hand and compatibility, interdependence, and trust on the other. All of the characters are more relatable here, more fully-formed, and more conflicted. The fact that their relationships don’t always end up where readers will expect them to add a nice dose of reality. McGee also ups the stakes in this book by directly addressing both racism and sexism as experienced by the characters. She also diversifies the cast by bringing non-white characters like Latina Nina and Asian Himari into a more centeral focus and introducing a black love interest for Samantha. Readers looking for less of a cookie cutter plotline will appreciate seeing the stories and characters grow beyond the rom-com-drama of the first book. A must-read for fans of the first book and possibly a broader audience of readers of relationship and friendship stories that reflect on social power structures. 

–Andrea Mullarkey, Berkeley Public Library

Tags: Coming of age, Realistic, Romance

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