One Last Stop is the newest book by Casey McQuiston, the author of Red, White and Royal Blue. It’s pitched as a contemporary LBTQ+ romance with a sci-fi twist. The story follows August, a bi-sexual 23-year old who recently moved to New York City to enroll in yet another college because she doesn’t seem to belong anywhere. She finds an apartment and a job at a pancake house and is soon surrounded by a found family of quirky characters. One day she meets, Jane, a beautiful girl on the Q train. Here’s the catch: Jane is from the 70s and can’t leave the train.
So first off, this book has so much LGBTQ+ rep in it, it’s insane. You’ve got bi-sexual, pansexual, trans, gay, lesbian, and probably more I forgot plus a bunch of drag queens. If you’re looking for a book with all the queer love, look no further. The main cast of characters also includes Hispanic, Black and Asian members so you’ve got race rep covered too although this book really doesn’t discuss race at all. I love seeing all the rep but as with a lot of these types of books, I think a lot of the reviews I’m reading are swayed by their feelings for the rep and not caring so much about the plot. That’s fine but not how I like to review and I think with this one, it’s really inflating it’s ratings.
Have you ever read a book where the main character and/or plot wasn’t your favorite but some other minor character or plot you loved? This was that book for me.
I didn’t really care for August as a main character. She was supposed to be a confused 23-year old and I just didn’t care, she wasn’t developed enough for me to care. She was going to her third or fourth college because she couldn’t find one where she fit it? No wonder she was 23 and swimming in debt. No one liked her growing up so she has no friends but magically everyone she meets in NY thinks she’s the best thing ever. I just didn’t buy it, she was annoying and floundering and self-conscious and I didn’t find it endearing or cute or whatever I was supposed to. I didn’t have any strong feelings for Jane either way, she read pretty flat for the girl everyone instantly falls in love with, it seemed like such a surface relationship with August falling for the pretty girl the instant they met. The combination made me really not care what happened with their relationship which unfortunately was the main focus of the book.
That said, I loved the side characters. August’s roommates, neighbors, and co-workers were quirky and delightful. The scenes with them were so much more fun than anything on the train. I’d love a book about Wes and Isiah, Myla and Niko or the character’s at Pancake Billy’s. Despite the limited time they each got, I connected with them way more than August or Jane. I really got into the book during their parties or just them all hanging out and then I got pulled right out of the story when it went back to being on the train with August and Jane. So frustrating! These guys did save the book though, just an August/Jane book would definitely have been rated even lower and I may have given in to my initial thought of DNF’ing if those side characters hadn’t proved to be delightful.
This book is also full of pop culture references, it’s doomed to not age well. Some of the references also seemed a little old for the characters? The main characters were supposed to have been born in the mid-90s so the random mention of a Rugrats character seemed a little odd to me. Maybe it lasted past the 90s but I thought that would be the late 80s/early 90s babies like me watching it. There were others too but the offhanded mention of Chucky Finster is the one that sticks in my brain. Regardless, doesn’t seem like the references would align with the target audience which I think for this one is on the younger side. An early 20-something or even teenager would probably be more sympathetic to August’s indecision and lost soul vibe than I was as a 33 year old.
Overall, I gave this 3 stars. I didn’t hate it, didn’t love it, it was fine. I’ll likely read more from McQuiston writes in the future, hopefully she finds a better main character.