In Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop, reformed girl detective August Landry just moved to New York and is determined to leave her past–and her mother’s lifelong mission to find her missing brother–behind her. Enter three quirky new roommates quickly worming their way past her carefully constructed defenses, a job waitressing at a pancake shop that means a whole lot more than pancakes, and a cute girl on the subway.
It’s not a crush. It’s really not. Except, the cute butch girl in a leather jacket keeps calling her “coffee girl,” and August keeps calling her “subway girl,” and it’s becoming a whole thing. All of which might amount to nothing aside from a bit of mid-commute flirtation, except then August finds a picture of Jane on the wall at Pancake Billy’s House of Pancakes. From opening day. In 1976. And she hasn’t aged a day.
Yep, it’s a whole timeslip situation.
Good thing her new roommates include a psychic and an engineer-turned-artist who may just be able to help her get to the bottom of this whole thing. (Immortal vampire? Nope. Ghost? Way too corporeal. Girl stuck outside of time due to a subway electrical malfunction? That’s the one.) Now, August’s past as a amateur investigator can be put to good use, trying to uncover the life Jane doesn’t remember and figure out some way to restore her to time–before the Q line shuts down for maintenance this fall and Jane dissapears forever.
It would all be so much easier if feelings weren’t getting into the way. Or, as August puts it, “terrible dumbass love.” Because now returning Jane to her time also means losing her forever. But if August really loves her, how could she ask her to stay?
I came into this book with high expectation (often the kiss of death for even a good book) after my deep and abiding love for McQuiston’s debut novel, Red, White and Royal Blue. That book made me feel all the feels and is laugh out loud funny to boot. And sophomore novels–especially after breakout hits that beloved–can be pretty hit or miss. But Casey McQuiston easily navigated around that by doing what they do best: writing incredible dialogue, heartfelt friend / family relationships, and chemistry-filled messy relationships that melt your heart to goo.
This book is very much a love story, but the focus on found family and friendship was what really stood out to me as I was reading. The deep friendship that develops between August and her new roommates, Niko, Myla, and Wes, is at the heart of the story. They’re the ones who bring August out of her shell. They’re the ones who help her solve the mystery behind her 1970s girl and how to get her back. They’re the ones who hold her when nothing seems to work out quite right and the heartbreak sets in. I’d argue One Last Stop is a love story about friendship as much as anything. And I don’t know about you, but I’m just a sucker for good found family storylines like that.
And unlike RWRB, this book also delves into the world of speculative fiction (see: aforementioned timeslip.) That’s another element that really makes One Last Stop stand out: it’s isn’t just a love story, it’s a story about time and place and inconceivable coincidences that defy all logical explanation. It’s fun. It does, maybe, sometimes, take itself a bit too seriously in trying to explain how everything happens. If a whole lot of science being used to explain speculative mumbo-jumbo bothers you, you may find yourself getting annoyed at some of the mental gymnastics being done to justify the timeslip (it can be a lot at times), but overall it works in context.
The time disparity between Jane’s past as a butch lesbian in the 1970s and August’s present as a bi woman in her young 20s in present day also brings to light how far LGBTQ rights / activism has come and how far it still has to go. McQuiston seamlessly wove those aspects together, and the story doesn’t shy away from darker aspects of that, either.
One Last Stop takes the best elements of McQuiston’s writing and transposes them to an all-new story fans of their debut novel, Red, White and Royal Blue, and newbies alike won’t be able to help but fall for.
Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
One Last Stop will be available from your local bookstore on June 1, 2021.