“And she can’t believe that Jane had the nerve, the audacity, to become the one thing August can’t resist: a mystery.”
One Sentence Summary: Cynical twenty-three-year-old falls for a time-slipping butch lesbian from the 1970s on the Q train, all the while saving a Brooklyn institution, finding a place she belongs, and finding her people.
POV & Tense: Third person & present tense
Characters: August, the cynical twenty-something in question; Jane, the time-slipping butch in question; Niko, the gentle psychic; Myla, the artist/engineer; Wes, the twink who contains multitudes; Isaiah/Annie Depressant, the neighbor across the hall who’s in love with said twink; Lucie and Winfield and Jerry, the Billy’s crew; and more.
Setting: NYC, specifically the Q train
Mood: Quarter-life crisis meets rom-com
Themes: Belonging, love, finding yourself
Content Warnings: Mentions of death, hate crimes, Hurricane Katrina, violence; alcohol and drug consumption
Other Tags: Time-slips, strangers to lovers, found family
*high-pitched screaming* I don’t even know where to begin. I promise I’ll try to make this coherent.
Anyone who has ever talked to me for even five seconds knows that Red, White & Royal Blue is my all-time favorite book. I’ve read it seven or eight times now (I think? I don’t always count it on Goodreads, and I often listen to the audiobook when I’m just going about my life). I picked it apart in preparation of writing my senior thesis because I wanted to write a queer new adult rom-com and RWRB is hands-down the best example. So you can imagine how desperate I was to get my hands on Casey McQuiston’s sophomore novel about a cynical twenty-three-year-old falling for a time-slipping butch lesbian from the 1970s who winds up in present day NYC. Casey McQuiston continues to deliver.
The cast of characters are all so natural and realistic, effortlessly inclusive without feeling forced or like the author was just ticking off diversity boxes for ally points. I want to be friends with August, Jane, Niko, Myla, Wes, Isaiah, Lucie, Winfield—the entire ragtag crew of queer mistfits as they play Rolly Bangs in their lopsided NYC apartment and go to drag shows in dive bars and eat at Pancake Billy’s House of Pancakes.
One of the best things about Casey McQuiston books is the inclusion of rom-com tropes. This isn’t a book review for RWRB, so I won’t go into detail about how perfectly it’s executed in McQuiston’s debut, but One Last Stop has it all: a skeptical protagonist closed off to love because she’s scared who finds herself finally being apart of something, saving an old small business, found family, and more that I’m probably forgetting. In all honesty, I inhaled this book as soon as I got the ARC; I’m due for a reread already.
Even though August and Jane’s romance is at the center of the book, One Last Stop is more than a romance. I can’t stress that enough. Yes, August and Jane, plus all of the other relationships, are a big part of the book, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about being lost in your twenties. About finding yourself, finding your place, and finding your people. About feeling connected to a city and the community you find within it. About letting yourself tear and keep your walls down so that you can be who you really are. It’s at once a queer history lesson and a recording of current queer culture. And it’s about New York, obviously.
Red, White & Royal Blue is so special to me (and to so many others), but One Last Stop hits home in a way I couldn’t have ever expected. The only word that comes to mind is momentous. If RWRB is a comforting hug, then OLS is a welcoming gut punch.
One Last Stop is hilarious, poignant, witty, and profoundly queer with Casey McQuiston’s trademark balance of millennial humor and unexpectedly poetic prose.
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Griffin for providing a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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