Cynical twenty-three-year old August doesn’t believe in much. She doesn’t believe in psychics, or easily forged friendships, or finding the kind of love they make movies about. And she certainly doesn’t believe her ragtag band of new roommates, her night shifts at a 24-hour pancake diner, or her daily subway commute full of electrical outages are going to change that.
But then, there’s Jane. Beautiful, impossible Jane.
All hard edges with a soft smile and swoopy hair and saving August’s day when she needed it most. The person August looks forward to seeing on the train every day. The one who makes her forget about the cities she lived in that never seemed to fit, and her fear of what happens when she finally graduates, and even her cold-case obsessed mother who won’t quite let her go. And when August realizes her subway crush is impossible in more ways than one — namely, displaced in time from the 1970s — she thinks maybe it’s time to start believing.
Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop is a sexy, big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time.
Genre(s): New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Science Fiction, LGBTQ+
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on June 1, 2021
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Representation: (click to show)
bisexual MC [August], lesbian Chinese-American LI [Jane], trans Puerto Rican major character [Niko], Black transracial adoptee (Chinese parents) major character [Myla], MLM major character [Wes], MLM drag queen major character [Isaiah/Annie Depressant], F/trans M established relationship, M/M B-romance, pansexual Jamaican-American drag queen secondary character [Winfield/Bomb Bumboclaat], Czech immigrant secondary character [Lucie], diverse secondary & minor characters
Content warnings: (click to show)
nongraphic sexual content, semi-public sex, death of estranged grandparent, mentions of queerphobia & racism, mention of anti-Semitism, drinking, marijuana use
I received a review copy of this book through Netgalley; all opinions are my own and honest.
Like many of my friends, I was super excited for this one since I absolutely adore McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue — and while it is a distinct type of novel from RWRB, One Last Stop did not disappoint. Both include a fantastically diverse cast of mostly twenty-somethings (including, but far from limited to, a QPOC in the main pairing), nuanced and dynamic relationships of all sorts, a strong sense of setting in terms of both location and time period, nods to queer history, humorous banter / witticisms, and a comfortably-paced narrative flow.
Given that the novel centers on a Lowkey Disaster Bisexual, August Landry, and a Chinese-American gay icon, Jane Su, I (a twenty-something demibisexual Taiwanese-American) was admittedly predisposed to love this if the representation was good. And man oh man, was it ever. August and the members of her queer found family each have delightful quirks, and they’re super supportive of each other, and they love a good party. I also really appreciated that the Asian-American love interest (Jane) was portrayed as sexy but not stereotypically hypersexualized or submissive, and all her memories/experiences are a reminder that American history and queer history also belong to queer Asian-Americans, even though they are often overlooked in queer American stories.
I have to confess that I don’t always love a sci-fi twist, but the incorporation of time travel actually worked quite well for me. Of course it was a great way to sneak in some queer American history, but it was also a fascinating complication to the main romance as they try to figure out who Jane is, how she got into this situation, how to free her, what will happen after they free her. There isn’t really room for contrived drama, which works out just fine since there are already ups and downs, joys and frustrations, victories and setbacks.
Finally, food may not be a central focus of the novel but I contend that it is a love language as well as a carrier of culture. So I was delighted to discover a few mouthwatering mentions I want to try for myself: the Su Special sandwich, the fah sung thong (Chinese peanut candy) mentioned by August’s roommate Myla, Jane’s favorite chocolate chip NY-style bagels with peanut butter, Wes’s orange cardamom scones with maple chai drizzle. Also NY-style pizza, of course. (And if any of these culinary experiments turn out well, they just might be the subject of future posts!)
One Last Stop has less of a cotton-candy (what some call fanfiction-y) feel than Red, White & Royal Blue but is still a relatively light read, with plenty of heartwarming and hilarious moments. It’s very New Adult and very NYC and very queer, and very, very enjoyable.
Conversion: 12.2 / 15 = 4.5 stars
Prose: 7 / 10
Characters & Relationships: 9 / 10
Emotional Impact: 9 / 10
Development/Flow: 8 / 10
Setting: 8 / 10
Diversity & Social Themes: 4 / 5
Originality/Trope Execution: 4 / 5
Rereadability: 4 / 5