A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This "what if" speculative fiction is meant to entertain, but readers can be encouraged to research and explore which historical events have been changed and which haven't. It can also encourage thought about why the characters think monarchy is better than democracy and whether you agree. Lots of parallels to the current British monarchy invite comparisons and further research into the UK's form of government.
The strongest message is about not giving up on happiness just because things have always been done a certain way. Things change, and you can change things if you're willing to face resistance and put the work in. Opposition to government is critical because it can spark change for the better. Leaders shouldn't be afraid of criticism. If you're being criticized for something it means you've at least taken a stand. Listen to your critics and learn from them.
Positive Role Models
Most characters are idealized types. Beatrice is perfect heir to the throne who exercises a tremendous amount of self-discipline as she fulfills her duties, tries to find a way to follow her heart without shirking responsibility. Younger sister Sam is a bit of a nonconformist wild card, but even that has a role to play. Younger brother Jeff is an idealized prince who wants to follow his heart without hurting anyone. There's a villain motivated by ambition, easy to spot and completely unlikeable. One Asian character is referred to as "inscrutable."
Violence & Scariness
A character remembers a teacher smacking her on the hands with a ruler in the past. Blood from an illness is said to be spattered around, but not described in detail.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Plenty of kissing with vague descriptions and no body parts mentioned. A couple sleep in the same bed every night; one of them says they aren't doing "everything." Elsewhere sex is implied by kissing on a bed, taking a dress off, asking about being sure; another time mentions straddling in a car backseat and fumbling with skirts. One couple kiss on a bed, start to undress, and stop.
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Products & Purchases
One character loves M&M's.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The drinking age is 18, and several 17-year-old teens drink at glamorous parties. Occasional excessive drinking without consequences beyond some regrets. Kegs at frat parties mentioned, drinking Scotch straight from the bottle, and having some bourbon for "liquid courage" mentioned. One character plans to sedate another and take compromising photos of her to use as blackmail. One character smokes briefly under emotional stress.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that American Royals is a romance that imagines what an American royal family would be like. Similar to author Katharine McGee's popular Thousandth Floor series, it's about a group of older teens in the highest, most glamorous levels of society. For a romance, the sexy stuff is pretty mild: mostly a lot of swooning kisses, with a couple of instances of implied sex. No body parts are described. Alcohol consumption at parties is glamorized, although excess is rare. A few teens who are months short of legal age drink at parties. One character plans to sedate another in order to take compromising pictures for blackmail, with severe consequences. There's minor violence (a character remembers a teacher smacking her on the hands with a ruler in the past; splattered blood from an illness is described), and strong language ("sluts," "bitch") is rare. There are mostly positive messages about responsible leadership, trying to make things better, and not letting obligation or tradition stand in the way of personal happiness but instead working to change things for the better.
Is It Any Good?
Glittering parties, fabulous clothes, unimaginable wealth, and swoon-worthy love interests are all here to captivate fans of romance and royalty. Author Katharine McGee has built a believable world with the intriguing premise that, since its creation by revolution, the U.S. has been ruled by George Washington and his descendants in an unbroken line of American Royals. And as in her popular Thousandth Floor series, McGee makes it easy to keep track of who's who and keeps the pages turning by switching among several points of view.
Unlike her earlier series, though, there's much, much less intrigue and mystery beyond the usual romantic will-they-or-won't-they suspense. That makes this new series better suited for romance fans only. Most of the content is pretty mild, but readers need to be mature enough to take the glamorization of wealth and celebrity in stride. The cliffhanger ending of this installment is by no means the end of the story, and fans will be glad that a second installment is promised for the fall of 2020.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.