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.