One Last Stop is the second book from Casey McQuiston (remember Red, White and Royal Blue) and let me tell you, it is just as good, if not better, than her first!
I decided to do a bit of a different style of review for One Last Stop because there’s a certain sandwich, the Su Special, mentioned a couple of times throughout the book, so I thought it’d be fun to review the book whilst making the sandwich.
You can check that out below, but if you’d rather read my review – the points are the same, just without the awful cooking! – just go ahead and scroll past the video for my written thoughts on One Last Stop.
Ok, so I want to break this review down into several focus points: plot, pacing, characters, issues, things I loved, summary. So let’s get to it!
Our 23-year-old protagonist realises her subway crush is displaced from 1970’s Brooklyn, and she must do everything in her power to help her – and try not to fall in love with the girl lost in time – before it’s too late . . .
The first thing I wanna say is that this is a contemporary story with a fantasy lens. This isn’t Red, White and Royal Blue 2.0. Red, White and Royal Blue is definitely a rom-com, happy upbeat vibes kind of book. The plot of One Last Stop is a little more – I don’t wanna say emo exactly, but it’s more pensive and low key for sure. The plot could easily lend to a fluffy story, but thankfully it doesn’t go there.
Red, White and Royal Blue was written very much with a contemporary lens. But the plot was JUUUST about out there enough to give us a bit of fantasy – and I don’t mean that in the dragons and magic sense. I mean it’s a fantasy we’d all quite like, for the sons of world leaders to be in a queer relationship, but I don’t think that’s coming any time soon, unfortunately.
But One Last Stop, whilst still in a contemporary setting, has a fantastical plotline in the sci-fi sense. So that might make this a little more off-putting to the general reader. But it shouldn’t because the time travel element is right there in the description. You’ve not been tricked into reading it.
There’s also niko – one of August’s roommates (and an absolute delight) who is psychic. A psychic, in New York you say? Oh, my stars! But whilst we never actually get full on acknowledgement if Niko is just spiritual and lucky – or if he actually is in tune, I’m inclined to believe we’re supposed to believe he actually is psychic, considering the time travel aspect of the plot and all.
I’m not gonna lie, I was quite worried for the first, maybe quarter (maybe a lil less, 20%?) for this book because it honestly felt a little dense. It was quite a slow start and I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it all that much. But I’m so glad I carried on because when it took off, it really took off! I also started to really fall for the characters!
I will sya that the second half is far more superior to the first half, the pacing really picks up and things really get moving. It’s amazing. I personally like the tone shift.
There’s absolutely no getting around that the characters in One Last Stop are charming, just like in RW&RB. August and all the others just feel so real. I related with august, ya know, the whole being pushed through education and then when you’re an adult your like – wait, what do I wanna do with my life?
One thing I have to say is that all of the characters are very inclusive without ever feeling like a check box exercise. The New York setting helps this I feel. But regardless, I’m absolutely here for all the rep! 🏳️🌈 Huge rep. All the rep! We have trans, gay, lesbian, bi – and probably a whole host of others I’m forgetting. Let me introduce you to our main cast of characters:
August: A fuller figured bisexual lead who was conceived via in vitro fertilisation (I’ve never hear of that in a book!)
Jane: Chinese (self-described) butch lesbian, highly sexually active and not ashamed of it
Niko: Latino, trans, psychic
Maya: Black (with an adoptive Chinese mum), queer, artist/electrician
Wes: Queer, Jewish tattooist
New York City: Corny, I know. But the whole book is pretty much set here. And showing New York and all of its eccentricities really made it a character in its own right.
Issues I had
This is such a minor thing, and I was ultimately happy to go along with it, but there were a few too many coincidences in the plot – particularly in the second half. But I’m happy to overlook these, I’m not sure if they come from a lack of experience writing sci-fi or an oversite for the plot. Either way, not the biggest issue in the world.
What I didn’t like were the HP references. It REALLY surprises me that in a book, and from an author, that celebrates queer people (I mean, One Last Stop has a trans character!) that HP was referenced at all, Nevermind twice. These were references that can EASILY be taken out. Eg one was about disappearing quickly – and they mentioned apparating. And another was a list of successful books since the 1970’s. Both are easy removals and not exactly vital to the plot. So I HOPE these are removed from the final copy and that they are just here cos it’s the arc. But they both made me cringe in disgust when I read them. If you have an arc (or they make it to the final copy) I found them on pages 112 and 316 – so they’ll likely be around there.
Things I loved
Asides from damn near all of it? The sex-positivity was amazing. From Jane being in total control of herself and her sexuality to Maya and Niko’s sexual expression, to the actually well-written sex scenes, to the exploration of figuring out what you like in your early 20’s. Oh. Also the talk of virginity and what that means in the queer community.
I just loved all of it, ok?
This book is so sweet and I’m so excited that it’s coming out soon – it’s a long wait but I promise it’s worth it.
It’s a queer, proud found family story in the truest form and it takes you on many adventures from a subway across New York, mom and pop diners, the crappy apartments through to the amazing NYC drag scenes and much, much more.
I really hope you love this book as much as I did.
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