YA Contemporary Reviews: Majesty & Before the Beginning

October 8, 2020 by Jenna | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

YA Contemporary Reviews: Majesty & Before the BeginningMajesty (American Royals, #2) by Katharine McGee
on September 3, 2020
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Barnes & Noble
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Beatrice Washington now rules America as its first ever queen, but her family are more concerned about rushing through her arranged marriage to a man she barely knows. No one can know that her heart really belongs to her bodyguard - but even their love is under threat.
Meanwhile, Princess Samantha is under more scrutiny than ever before - and she still longs to be with her sister's fiancee. But with no sign of Bea's wedding being called off, she's surprised to find someone else catching her eye.
Nina Gonzalez is also tangled up with someone she never expected to be. She and Ethan are both nursing broken hearts, and it's not long before they find themselves pulled irresistably together.
Luckily for Daphne Deighton, Prince Jeff's grief for his father makes him a prime target for her attentions. She's the closest she's been in years to getting what she wants . . . so why can't she let the idea of her and Ethan go?
As the royal wedding of the century creeps ever closer, will these four young women get what they want - or will their hearts be broken forever?

*This review does not contain spoilers.*

I really loved American Royals last year and was really looking forward to the sequel, Majesty. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the ending to the duology that I had hoped for.

Now I’m pretty sure American Royals is a duology… but it’s not super clear to me, especially because of everything that happened in Majesty. My biggest gripe with this sequel is that the relationships that were formed in the previous book were just completely disregarded and it was difficult for me to feel invested in the new relationships and romances that were formed. I felt really attached to everything that happened in American Royals and I just couldn’t really get into Majesty.

I was also a bit unsatisfied with the way that the book ended and the unsatisfaction makes me question whether there’s going to be a third book (though I can’t find any information that suggests that American Royals is going to be a trilogy). The way the novel ends almost disregards everything that happened earlier in the book and leaves me wondering why I even read the duology in the first place?

Other than that, I thought Majesty was a perfectly fine book. It was engaging to read and I devoured it within a few hours. The writing was great, just like Katharine McGee’s other books. I just wasn’t really a fan of the plot.

I wanted to love Majesty so so much and was really looking forward to the end of the duology but the massive changes to the character relationships just left me feeling a bit disconnected.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Thank you to Penguin Australia for providing a review copy of the book.

Majesty is now available at all Australian retailers for $16.99 RRP.


YA Contemporary Reviews: Majesty & Before the BeginningBefore the Beginning by Anna Morgan
Published by Lothian Children's Books on September 29, 2020
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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The story of four friends, a mysterious stranger, and the week when everything changed. For fans of We Were Liars.
Schoolies week: that strange in-between time when teenagers move from school into the adult world. It's a week when anything is possible, and everything can change.
Grace is questioning everything she thought about herself, and has opted not to join her clique of judgemental friends for schoolies, instead tagging along with her brother Casper and his friends. Casper, an artist, is trying to create the perfect artwork for his uni application folio. Overachieving, anxiety-ridden Noah is reeling from a catastrophe that might have ruined his ATAR result. And Elsie is just trying to figure out how to hold their friendship group together.
On the first night of the trip, they meet Sierra, a mysterious girl with silver-grey hair and a magnetic personality. All of them are drawn to her for different reasons, and she persuades them to abandon the cliched schoolies experience in favour of camping with her on a remote, uninhabited island. On that island, each of them will find answers to their questions. But what does Sierra want from them?
An empathetic and suspenseful coming-of-age story from the author of All That Impossible Space.

Before the Beginning is pitched as being perfect for fans of We Were Liars and I definitely got the same mysterious beachy vibes. Before the Beginning is a coming of age story that follows four teenagers who have just finished high school and are experiencing all of the anxieties and issues that come with that transition.

What I really enjoyed was the multiple perspectives and narrators. The book is split into four sections, with each of the four sections being narrated by one of the four main characters. I really loved the way that the story unfolded through all four perspectives and the first person narration really allowed me to get to know each of the main characters and their struggles. I enjoyed reading from all of their perspectives and felt like I could relate with all of them, despite being quite different to some of the characters.

I also enjoyed all of the issues that were explored in the book, from friendships to sexuality to the anxiety that comes with finishing high school. I thought Anna Morgan did a great job of exploring all of these themes while writing an engaging and suspenseful story.

As much as I liked the characters and the story, I’m not a big fan of suspenseful contemporaries like this and just didn’t really enjoy the experience of reading it. It left me on edge in a way that almost made me resist reading the book. And the slow pacing of the book also didn’t really help. However, this is just a personal preference and I’m sure other readers would absolutely devour the book.

Before the Beginning is a wonderful coming of age story that many older readers would relate to. The characterisation is great and those who enjoy a suspenseful story would love this novel.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Thank you to Hachette Australia for providing a review copy.

Before the Beginning is now available at all Australian retailers for $19.99 AUD.

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Jenna is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves to indulge in great books and great food. She is a doctor (of philosophy) and can usually be found fangirling about something, devouring delicious food, or taking a nap. You can find her on Twitter @readwithjenna and on Instagram @readingwithjenna.

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