Student Opinion: One Last Stop – Come for the Sci-Fi Rom-Com, Stay for Everything Else

A pink hued in car with a person in a black jacket looking out to a person in a black dress

 

A pink hued in car with a person in a black jacket looking out to a person in a black dress

 

By: Rory Miner

 

DAVIS, CA- Author Casey McQuiston, who uses they/them pronouns, is best known for their LGBT political rom-com, Red, White, & Royal Blue. The novel is a fan-favorite. So much so that many fans of McQuiston only know the author for their debut novel, while their second release, One Last Stop, is completely overshadowed. 

 

While their first novel was an immediate success, and for good reason, I actually proudly hold the opinion that McQuiston’s second novel, One Last Stop, is their best work so far.

 

Put simply, One Last Stop is remarkable for how ambitious it set out to be, and how successful it was in doing so. The novel fuses multiple genres, bursts with unique character, and unceasingly engages readers with its dynamic plot. This multifaceted aspect is what is most impressive about McQuiston’s writing, for its “ability to cross over,” highlighting multiple subjects and appealing to a broad audience.  

 

My two favorite genres to read for pleasure are science fiction and romantic comedies. Understandably, I have some trouble finding books that bridge the gap between these two unrelated subjects. One Last Stop, however, does just that. The Washington Post recognized it as a bestseller, and it’s obvious why. The novel harmonizes these two distinct genres brilliantly, while further introducing themes of contemporary literature, nostalgia, and even mystery. There’s something for everyone, and plenty for those who can’t get enough.

 

One Last Stop introduces readers to the snarky August, and her adorable crush on the punk stranger from the subway. Rooting for August and Jane’s blossoming relationship as we would after any other meet-cute, readers realize alongside the two protagonists (and their ragtag friend group) that their relationship might be more challenging than just catching the right train. Jane is stuck on the subway, and stuck in time. August is determined to save her 70’s girlfriend, and with no spoilers, subway courtships and the time travel shenanigans inevitably ensue. 

 

Even Marty McFly would be caught off guard by the sci-fi twist to the novel, after the cartoonish cover implies a romantic comedy situationship more in line with Sleepless in Seattle. However, listed by the New York Times as one of the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2021, the novel is most certainly in the right genre. Instead of chance encounters and charming adventures, the magic of One Last Stop is limited to the subway cars Jane calls home— yet simultaneously surpasses the laws of time. 

 

The story’s strengths lie not only in the primary love story and flux-capacitor of an obstacle, but in the cast of vibrant side personalities, August’s intriguing backstory, and the delicate teasing with which the plot unfolds, interconnects, and climaxes, repeatedly. It’s the kind of book you read in a single sitting. If you are not constantly engaged by the character dynamics from August’s roommates’ subplots to her mysteriously rocky relationship with her mother, you’re hooked first on why Jane makes references that don’t make sense, and then how exactly a handful of twenty-somethings from Brooklyn are going to get her off the Q train. 

 

Whether readers are in it for the representation, the romance, or the radical sciencey stuff, they won’t be disappointed. NPR Book Reviews agree that One Last Stop has it all, miraculously without sacrificing any of it.

 

Not only was it an incredible follow up to a successful first novel, I’d say it totally surpassed McQuiston’s first work, further cementing them as a new voice worth checking out. Needless to say, I highly recommend One Last Stop, as well as Red, White, & Royal Blue. Both books are more than worth the read, though the latter pales in comparison to the sheer genius of the multifaceted, bewitching, extraordinary story that is One Last Stop in all its glory.

 

Next week, a new player will enter the chat: McQuiston’s highly-anticipated third novel I Kissed Shara Wheeler is released this coming May 3rd. While I feel confident that One Last Stop will remain at the top of my list, I eagerly await the new release because frankly, I’d read Casey McQuiston’s grocery list if given the chance.

 

About The Author

Jordan Varney received a masters from UC Davis in Psychology and a B.S. in Computer Science from Harvey Mudd. Varney is editor in chief of the Vanguard at UC Davis.

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9 Comments

  1. Ron Oertel

    DAVIS, CA- Author Casey McQuiston, who uses they/them pronouns,

    While their first novel was an immediate success, 

    How many authors are we talking about, here?

    highlighting multiple subjects

    I guess so.

    and appealing to a broad audience.

    Women?

    One Last Stop introduces readers to the snarky August, and her adorable crush on the punk stranger from the subway. 

    Without getting into gender of either of those names, how many people does this consist of? Is this some kind of group thing?

    Rooting for August and Jane’s blossoming relationship

    Sounds like one is (at least) a month, while the other is decidedly female.

    August is determined to save her 70’s girlfriend,

    Is gender defined that way in the story?  And is that a decade, or the age of the protagonist?

    Even Marty McFly would be caught off guard by the sci-fi twist to the novel,

    Is that the protagonist from the movie, The Fly?  If so, that’s definitely a “they”.

    mysteriously rocky relationship with her mother

    Birthing person.

    I’d read Casey McQuiston’s grocery list if given the chance.

    Sounds like “they” are shopping for more than one person, at least.

    I Kissed Shara Wheeler 

    No questions, your honor.

     

     

     

  2. Alan Miller

    DAVIS, CA- Author Casey McQuiston, who uses they/them pronouns,

    While their first novel was an immediate success,

    > How many authors are we talking about, here?

    “They” can also be singular.  Who knew?

    Answer:  Anyone under 30

    1. Ron Oertel

      Thought I’d look this up.

      Turns out that “they” can involve a third person:

      What is the singular “they”?

      The singular “they” is a generic third-person pronoun used in English. It’s not the only third-person singular pronoun—other third-person singular pronouns are “she” and “he” as well as less common options such as “ze” or “hen.”

      though times are a changin:

      Big changes are afoot!

      However, this second sentence presumes that a person uses either the pronoun “he” or the pronoun “she,” which is not necessarily the case. For example, some people use other pronouns, including “they,” “zir,” “ze,” “xe,” “hir,” “per,” “ve,” “ey,” and “hen.”

      As Daffy Duck once said to Elmer (in regard to “pronoun trouble”), do you want to shoot me now, or wait until you get home?

      I think I like “xe”, or maybe “zir” (from the planet Zir). I’m sure that they have green hair, regardless.

      1. Alan Miller

        For example, some people use other pronouns, including “they,” “zir,” “ze,” “xe,” “hir,” “per,” “ve,” “ey,” and “hen.”

        I use the phrase, “oi vey”.

        I actually like “ze” or “xe” and wish that had caught on.  I just can’t use ‘they’ without my brain (programmed by my elementary school teachers in the 60’s) telling me it’s not correct.  I could use a new term such as “xe” easier than using what I consider plural as singular.  It just confuses me, and it’s baffling that the new generation can tell the difference without confusion.

        1. Ron Oertel

          There’s that problem (more than one identity occupying a single body), but I suspect this whole gender identity thing is (for the most part) a fad that will collapse under its own weight within a decade.

          Or, during one’s first trip to another (e.g., non-western) country, where they don’t entertain such nonsense.

          If nothing else, generation Z’s own/future kids will say, “what the hell were you thinking?”, if they find out that their “birthing person” (for example) was confused as to their “identity”.  (Assuming that males and females can identify themselves and “get together” at some point, which I suspect really isn’t a “problem” – even now.)

          By the way, “birthing person day” is coming up, soon.

        2. Alan Miller

          I suspect this whole gender identity thing is (for the most part) a fad that will collapse under its own weight within a decade.

          I may have agreed with that five years ago, but I’ve had long conversations with friends who identify as transgender, asexual, non-binary, etc., and it is quite real and is a form of modern identity expression that simply wasn’t an option decades ago.  Much of this has become politicized and I understand reacting to that aspect of it.  However, modern gender identity is quite real to individuals and is not going away, I assure you.  Identity itself is to many in the new generation not what it was back in the day.  It is very eye opening to learn about and thankfully I have had the opportunity to hear from people willing to share deeper aspects of what this means to them.

          It’s not that hard

          I know you love shaming people for not being hip to being progressive — such as using the word “hip” — but it is that hard.  I went half a century never having heard of someone changing their pronouns.  There is no box in my brain for it, and no way to force the non-singuar ‘they’ to sound correct and not set off grammar alarms.  I have to rethink every sentence, and often misgender/deadname friends/relatives who have switched and/or changed names.  I don’t like doing it one bit, but even if I get down the pronouns as such, gender references come out in other unexpected ways in conversation, and once I get into conversation and stop being super-careful to get it right, I slip up again.  Luckily, most of them are understanding and forgiving.  Others, not so much . . .

        3. Ron Oertel

           

          I may have agreed with that five years ago, but I’ve had long conversations with friends who identify as transgender, asexual, non-binary, etc., and it is quite real and is a form of modern identity expression that simply wasn’t an option decades ago.

          Ultimately, despite what anyone says – I don’t believe that sexual “identity” or “expression” is a thing, at least not on a mass scale.  I’m sure that every human being on earth has thought about how their lives would be different if they were born as the opposite sex.  (In other words, they can separate-out their “identity” from their biological sex, itself.  As such, identity (soul, for lack of a better word) does not actually have a sex.  Every one of us could have been born as the opposite sex.

          Sex is a fact, not an expression or an identity.

          There’s a biological reality involved here, which transcends humans and includes the animal world.  It’s a biological binary system, and one in which life itself is dependent upon.

          There have always been people who sought to change their sex, and some seem to be happy with the result.  But this has always been very rare, until recently.

          Much of this has become politicized and I understand reacting to that aspect of it.  However, modern gender identity is quite real to individuals and is not going away, I assure you.  Identity itself is to many in the new generation not what it was back in the day.  It is very eye opening to learn about and thankfully I have had the opportunity to hear from people willing to share deeper aspects of what this means to them.

          The problem I’m seeing is that some will choose serious medical intervention at an age in which they’re not even allowed to vote.  The result of that intervention itself will cause one to assume biological characteristics of the sex that they weren’t born with, but it won’t be a complete process.  As such, they’ll be left in an “in-between” world (biologically), impacting the rest of their lives.  For some (perhaps even many), they’re likely to regret this decision as they get older.  (As you noted, this phenomenon hasn’t even been around long enough to stand the test of time on a mass scale.)

          Of course, undergoing medical intervention in this manner will itself cause one to “feel” that they are a sex that they weren’t born as.  As such, this can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

          If parents want to encourage or allow this type of medical intervention, I feel sorry for the kids themselves.  However, I don’t have an answer regarding those who (for lack of a better word) “honestly” believe that they are trapped in the wrong sex, and are unlikely to change their minds as they get older.  (For those individuals, it would be an advantage to undergo medical intervention as early as possible.  But again, this has historically been a very rare situation.)

          I don’t view this as a political issue, until folks make it one.  It’s a mental health and biological issue, from what I can see.

          For that matter, it makes no sense to “believe” that you’re something that you’re simply not, biologically. If it did, we could also believe that we’re trapped in the wrong skin color, for example.

          Of course, my opinion of what others should do with their lives (medically) is ultimately not my business.  I’m not sure if this will have a larger societal impact, nor do I know who large of a phenomenon this actually is.

           

           

           

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