Last fall, I loved Casey McQuiston‘s debut novel, Red, White, & Royal Blue. I was excited to learn about their second novel, One Last Stop, and counted down the days to its release. It just came out on June 1st, and being Pride Month, too, I read it as soon as my Book of the Month edition arrived.
|One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston|
|Genre||Romance; Paranormal Romance|
|Setting||New York City|
|Number of Pages||432|
|Format I Read||Hardcover (BOTM)|
|Original Publication Date||June 1, 2021|
From the New York Times bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue comes a new romantic comedy that will stop readers in their tracks…
For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.
But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.
Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.
Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop is a magical, sexy, big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time.
As with Casey McQuiston’s first novel, One Last Stop is immediately accessible, relatable, and fun, even with a no-nonsense lead like August Landry. August has just arrived in New York City, ready to start college at a new school and with a new major (her fourth so far). She gets a place living with three weird but friendly roommates and starts working at a pancake house, and is expecting life to stay dull and colorless. Then she meets Jane Su on the subway.
Jane is a relaxed and outgoing young woman who loves old-school punk. She’s the opposite of August, yet the two hit it off right away. August arranges her schedule to make sure she catches the Q train at the same time each day, hoping that she’ll see Jane. But soon enough she realizes that, even if she’s running late or takes the subway at a random time of day or night, Jane is always there. In fact… Jane is not only stuck on the subway, she’s stuck in time. She’s been riding the Q line since the 1970s and hasn’t aged a day since.
There is so much I love about One Last Stop! It’s one of only a few romances I’ve read with a fantasy or sci-fi element. Two women falling in love against a backdrop of time displacement and punk rock? Yes please.
All the characters are lovable and well defined. August and Jane are opposites—one a serious and thoughtful Virgo, one a happy and charming Gemini (and can I just mention that I’m a Gemini and my husband is a Virgo? The connection is real)—and yet they balance each other out perfectly. August’s roommates Niko, Myla, and Wes are fun and helpful, and together they form a beautiful found family. Their drag queen neighbor and co-workers at the pancake house where August works also add to the wonderful sense of community here. This is a book the celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community in particular. Of course, it’s a sapphic romance between August (bisexual) and Jane (lesbian). Many other characters fit within the queer spectrum, too.
The romance between August and Jane is sweet, and a large part of their arc is unraveling the time displacement mystery. Where and when is Jane from? Why and how did she get stuck there? More importantly, how can they get Jane unstuck in time? And once they do that, will she stay here in the present or go back to the 1970s? The latter could break their hearts… but maybe it’d be best for Jane. However, Jane has been stuck for so long that she seems to have some amnesia. It takes some convincing for her to even realize that she is stuck in time. It takes a lot more time for her to regain her memory, and thus, the key to unlocking her time warp.
I love how August is able to help Jane, and how, in turn, her roommates and friends play a big part in that, too. This goes into some science fiction talk, which I didn’t fully understand, but it adds a whole new element to the book.
On top of the romance, time travel, and sense of community, One Last Stop also weaves in numerous other themes and details that I enjoyed. Astrology and Niko’s psychic abilities are fun, money issues are totally relatable, and the constant presence of pancakes made me crave breakfast. Music is another major theme that I particularly loved. Whereas Green Day was my introduction to punk in the 2000s, Jane was living the punk life in the 1970s. It’s fun seeing how August and Jane bond over music and get to know each other through it. I also love getting to know Jane’s past punk side—not just her music taste, but also her activism and anti-war stance way back when. In exploring Jane’s past, we also get to see how homophobia played a role in her past. It’s heartening to see how far we’ve come in LGBTQIA+ rights and acceptance in the decades since, even if we still have a long way to go.
August also has a bit of backstory with her family and her mom’s missing brother. Is it possible that this side story could converge with the main plot of the book at some point?
One Last Stop is an adult novel, but as with Red, White, & Royal Blue, it feels like it’s on the young end of the spectrum. It could almost be New Adult, if that classification is still in use. The characters are in their 20s, and a large theme is feeling a lack of direction in life, fear of the future, not knowing how to start your life and feel like a real adult. I’ve been there; even in my early 30s, I sometimes feel it. And I remember being fresh out of college and living in New York City, taking the Subway between Queens and Brooklyn each day. One Last Stop is a story that captures a feeling and brings it to life. Even if it’s not your story—and let’s be real, how many of us have fallen in love with time-displaced punks on the subway?—it’s something that feels viscerally real.
I loved One Last Stop from start to finish. It’s fresh and puts a new spin on romance and time loops, but it also weaves in themes of found family, LGBTQIA+ community and love, music, growing into adulthood, and so much more. Casey McQuiston has delivered another splendid novel, and I look forward to reading whatever they put out next.
About the Author
Casey McQuiston is the New York Times bestselling author of One Last Stop; Red, White & Royal Blue; and I Kissed Shara Wheeler, as well as a pie enthusiast. Born and raised in southern Louisiana, Casey now lives in New York City with Pepper, a poodle mix and semipro personal assistant.
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