11th March, 2020

Review: Heartstopper (Volumes 1, 2, and 3) by Alice Oseman (Hodder)

I came across this series of graphic novels on Instagram and finished volumes one thru three in two short nights. Charlie and Nick's queer love story is a sweet tale of the search for acceptance and the oftentimes quite tricky lives of teenagers still trying to find their identities.I'm rev iewing the first three volumes together as the story seamlessly continues from one book into the next.

I loved the easiness between Nick and Charlie, even though both are clearly struggling to come to terms with what is happening between them. Their affection is touchingly pure and innocent. We follow them through the school year, including rugby practice, movie nights with friends, conflicts with bullying school mates and, in volume three, a school trip to Paris. This is where Nick and Charlie's relationship gains momentum and depth, where secrets and problems are revealed and where the boys eventually find more confirmation in their circle of friends than they would have anticipated. 

I tremendously enjoyed parts one and two, even though the cute making out/sweet talking scenes sometimes became a tad too cheesy. Part three was the most interesting in a way because it was about the fear of coming out and it introduced other important themes. This is, however, where I came across a few points that irked me. The eating disorder explanation was a bit too simple and textbook for me, as (like with all mental health issues) the background of disordered eating is highly complicated while the book simply pulled the standard "This is the only thing I can control in my life" card. Also, Nick's dad is French and stereotypically depicted sporting a moustache. These were things that annoyed me a little, especially in a story that talks about diversity and the dangers of stereotyping, and even though the whole story is told in a simple and somewhat fluffy way, I think that Oseman could have at least gone a bit deeper here (or, if that's not possible, maybe should have just left out these elements). 

This, though, are relatively minor points of criticism and Heartstopper is a lovely coming-of-age graphic novel full of endearing characters. I look forward to seeing how the story will continue. 

Rating: 4/5 stars

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