For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.
But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.
Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.
If you have been following me for a while, then you know that I absolutely adored Casey’s “Red, White, and Royal Blue”! Interestingly, it was the first book I read this year and even gave it a five star! But I would be lying if I said that this book was just as good. It was actually pretty disappointing, and every moment I just wanted to go back to Alex and Henry.
There are certain aspects of this book that I really admired and enjoyed but then there were stuff that made me itch and scream and cry. To be honest, there was a point when this book was just straight on dragging and I would have dnf-ed but I kept telling myself that it’s a Casey McQuiston book – I need to know the ending because you never know! But it was bad. I didn’t like it – at all. Some lines and moments hidden in the creeks of the story, were pretty heartening BUT it was not enough to make this story stand. Definitely not reading this again, but here’s what I thought.
This was one of my most anticipated releases of this year and the most disappointing. I didn’t totally despise the book. I do thing that it’s very likable, but it just doesn’t work for me.
- The first thing that brought it down by a star for me was – insta love or love-at-first-sight. The moment August sees Jane in the subway, there is a sizzling connection between the two. I mean- please. I feel like it’s about time people stop using insta-love as a lovey-gooey trope. It is not fun, period. We like to see the build-up, the slow burn, the development. Using insta-love is just hands down being lazy and you cannot convince me otherwise.
- The next thing that killed me was the pace. It goes really really slow and suddenly picks up and I am like reading super fast for a chapter or two and then it’s like the pace falls asleep. It’s staggering again. Say hello to the sleepy plot and storyline which has unnecessary mood swings more frequently than the ghost of Helena Ravenclaw. And each time this happened, the book only succeeded in feeling slower than ever before.
- August was a truly charming character not gonna lie. I loved knowing the story from her perspective and seeing New York through her eyes. She is part of the reason why I made myself read it. She is smart, quirky, funny, sensitive, clumsy with feelings, and super relatable. But Jane. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t bring myself to like Jane. If fact, she was annoying at best. Throughout the story all she did was play the ghost, enamor August, and make out with her. Her personality literally consists of two words – girl from the 70’s and a brave outspoken lesbian, which is great and all; but I like more depth in characters.
Truth is, when you spend your whole life alone, it’s incredibly appealing to move somewhere big enough to get lost in, where being alone looks like a choice.
- Also, why didn’t anyone tell me that there was an element of science-fiction and time travel in this? I thought it was a contemporary book and I do love reading science fiction, but I just didn’t like it in this book. It felt like too many ideas trapped in a book. Besides, it didn’t make a lot of sense. There was a part where August was trying to avoid Jane by taking the Q train at a different time of the day. But we are told later that Jane is always on that train. So, how the hell does that add up? Also, except one time August always sees Jane the moment she steps into the train. I mean – what are the odds here? And lastly – what about college? I get that she has roommates and work and Jane; but we are told that she is a great student and she has done exceptionally well in school. When the hell does she study or anything?
- Another thing that annoyed me was the pop culture references. And this probably says more about me than the book, and this is hugely personal but I didn’t like the amount of songs they kept incorporating in the story. I love it when people make references and all, but this was just over the bar. More than half the time it was about music and various songs. It got on my nerves. I love music, and I love talking with lyrics. But this was kind of like so stinky sweet. Cringe level A.
- And then there were the jokes. Some of the jokes were pretty cool not gonna lie, even witty if stretched but most of them were annoying and such a waste. And the jokes covered almost 65% of the story. Talk about getting on my nerves. Each time a weird joke is cracked all the characters laugh, try not to smile, hide a smile. I mean either my sense of humor is messed up or those characters are faking it.
- And after like 65% of the book, this literally felt like a history lesson and was just as much painful. It was all about – Jane did that. Jane did this. Jane was so brave. So unique. So alone. It was killing me. Thankfully, I also had the audiobook and the narrator was amazing! Jane’s life sounds super cool, but maybe instead of just giving us loads of information and a whole entire bio-data on her we could have done better with flashbacks or maybe something creative? I don’t know, but the info-dump almost made me tear out my hair.
You’re the most important person I’ve met,” she says. “And I should have never met you at all.”
Okay, so enough bad-mouthing. I kind of feel bad writing such a negative review. It’s actually my fist time ranting about a book and I am super scared but hey, I am not attacking anyone. These are just my opinions and thoughts. And I would get it if you are kind of hurt and angry at me, because I get really defensive and weird when someone spews hate on my favorite books. This just bothered me so much, that I had to write about it.
Okay, so now the things that I truly liked about this book.
- I LOVED how queer this queer book was!
- It was well-planned, but boring, BUT well-planned nonetheless.
- I really loved the found-family trope in this. Each and every character was so unique and charming.
A switchblade girl with cotton-candy heart.
- My absolute favorite was Nico and Mayla! They were the sweetest and their personality, their aura of friendship – it was everything. Honestly, I had read a book about them.
- And ahh the restaurant! Billy’s restaurant, the magic surrounding it, the food, and especially Su’s special made me soo hungry! Gosh. I loved it ❤
I am super bad at reading slow paced books but I did this because it was Casey McQuiston. I didn’t read this with the intension of roasting it, but yeah. It was kind of disappointing. :((
So, have you guys read it? Let me know down below!