It’s not THAT hard, I saw “new book from the author of Red, White & Royal Blue” and immediately put it on hold. And then proceeded to haunt all my libraries until one decided to buy it.
To get the obvious bits out of the way: do I like this as much as I liked RW&RB? I can’t really remember, but I think perhaps not quite as much. From what I remember, at least, RW&RB might have a number of fantastical elements (our president is a Texas Democrat Latina) but at least there we’re in the realm of it’ll turn…someday…
Here, with no spoilers because it’s in the blurb of the book, we’re got elements that are straight up fantasy, namely the fact that the object of August’s crush (Jane) straight up only exists on the Q train and is displaced from the 1970s.
Which is to say, there’s just a lot going on in this book, and part of me wished there was just one thing less so that we could focus more on the other plot elements. I even though of the way to streamline it towards the end of the book–have Jane just be somehow keyed into the Q, not necessarily out of time as well. Keep the mystery fantasy element of why she doesn’t exist elsewhere, but perhaps remove the timey wimey bit?
I’m being SORT OF picky, but also not, because really all I wanted was more August and June. While I’m glad for the queer AF family that August finds in NYC (my <3) allllll I waaaaaaant is for Augggggusttttt and Junee to have to kiss for, you know, science and memory and stuff. Like, very important to do so.
It’s also super rad to subtly get a history of queer culture and rebellion in the 1970s through the eyes of a minority who was “there,” and McQuiston acknowledges the sources of her information in the author’s note as well. Jane might be “only” 24-25 but she’s lived a lifetime in those years, bringing into sharp relief all the ways in which August’s life has been lacking despite having the ability to, you know, live in the real world.
And sure, maybe her newfound queer fam are a little twee for me, but I even my shriveled old heart grew three sizes while reading this book and its celebration of life and NYC and queer life. [Who would have ever thought that someone could make sexytimes on a NYC SUBWAY seem hot and not, you know, germ-y?]