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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Hodgson

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

Like so many book bloggers, I fell head first in love with Red, White and Royal Blue when it came out. It was the queer romance balm that my heart very much needed in early 2020, and I was very excited with One Last Stop was announced as the next novel from Casey McQuiston.

This book was both everything and nothing at all like I expected all rolled up in one. The story follows 23 year old August, as she moves to New York City to find somewhere to live and finish her studying. August is a cynical loner; she trusts no one and doesn’t feel comfortable putting roots down anywhere. She moves in to an apartment with 3 other people then meets Jane on the subway to college and is instantly captivated by her. With her leather jacket and ripped jeans, Jane looks like she stepped straight out of the 1970s and into August’s life. She then finds out that Jane DID, in fact, step out of the 1970s and is now lost in time, and this sweet little romcom takes a mad sci-fi twist in the blink of an eye.

And do you know something? It works!

This novel is an absolute whirlwind and has a vibrant, diverse cast of characters that just gave me so much joy. I think August’s new roommate Myla was my favourite. She was so funny, intelligent and kind, and I genuinely enjoyed every appearance of hers on the page. The side stories with Wes and Isaiah, Pancake Billy’s and August’s missing uncle Augie are all wonderfully woven into the narrative and felt just as important as the main story involving Jane and August.

The writing is slick and funny, which is no surprise at all, and McQuiston has done a great job at capturing that NYC magic in her exploration of the city and this patchwork cast of colourful characters.

When I think about One Last Stop and its predecessor, I do think that I read Red, White and Royal Blue at the perfect time: it was early 2020 with both the real election and the one in the AU of the book looming. I wonder if that very specific setting will mean the book won’t age as well as some others, but, for me, it really summed up the much hoped for political change of the period. We therefore flip from a book about a very particular moment in time to one where one of our main characters isn’t anchored down in time at all, and I love that contrast. I immensely enjoyed One Last Stop, but I’m not sure I loved it quite as much as I loved Red, White and Royal Blue. When I reflect on why that is, I honestly think it comes down to what I have said above about the context of timing.

One thing which does stand out in One Last Stop, however, is that the time travel element does afford it the opportunity to explore some of the history of the Gay Rights Movement in America in a way which would not have been possible without a character who had lived through it. Jane’s memories don’t read like a history book because it was her life, and this adds a unique dynamic to a novel which is otherwise, incredibly contemporary.

With this second novel, Casey McQuiston has firmly cemented their reputation as a great queer romcom writer, and I am certainly looking forward to reading what they write next.


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