REVIEW: 'Heartstopper' Volumes 1-3 by Alice Oseman Have Become My Favourite Graphic Novels Ever
Hello Fellow Readerholics,
Today I have three reviews for you (or just one really long one about 3 books)! I was lucky enough to receive the first three volumes of ‘Heartstopper’ by Alice Oseman from Hachette Australia and I couldn’t be more excited to talk about them with you (to you?)!
Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?
Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him.
They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…
I’d just like to preface that this was the first graphic novel I have ever read for my own enjoyment. I read Maus last year during year nine English (it was actually pretty good) but that was an entirely different experience! I’d heard a lot about the books before I read them (I blame @sylvs for that) so its safe to say I had fairly high expectations. That being said, Heartstopper Volume 1 did NOT disappoint!
As readers, we are quickly introduced the characters and because it’s a graphic novel, I had a solid understanding of the characters early on. Heartstpper isn’t necessarily told in any particular perspective but I felt that this was more Charlie’s story than it was Nick’s. I really liked this as it gave more direction to the story. I became rather fond of the characters quite early on and I still feel that fondness as I write this.
The most important aspect of the entire book is probably the relationships, particularly, the blossoming relationship between Nick and Charlie. This was certainly my favourite aspect of the book! I loved their progression of acquaintances, to friends and then to something more. Everything was just SO fluffy!! In fact, I was surprised how much enjoyed the fluff as there was an awful lot of it and I usually tend to lean towards books that have something to dilute such high amounts of relationship wholesomeness! And it was wholesome! You guys, I didn’t think I would ship two cartoon teenagers like this but here we are! Of course, I also loved to see how the characters interacted with everyone else but Nick and Charlie was a clear highlight,
The plot was something that I really loved. It was fairly realistic but it was still something I could fly through rapidly (I finished books 1 &2 in one sitting!) I really appreciated the pacing of the novel in particular as everything had a really nice flow to it.
The aspect I commend the most though, is the animation! I can not imagine the sort of dedication it takes to draw out a full graphic novel (let alone three!) I loved the simple yet expressive nature of the characters and the small little tid bits at the end with the characters ID or bedrooms made the reading experience that much more enjoyable!
One thing that I didn’t expect was the layout of the books. It wasn’t a bad thing, I just didn’t realise that the volumes of Heartstopper are technically the one book (which makes it all the more unbearable to have to wait for the next book, I’m practically mid chapter!) I can’t tel you if I like this aspect or not as it isn’t great to have to wait mid book but I also think it makes the plot more favourable and easy to digest.
Overall, I clearly ADORED Heartstopper Volume 1! It was the perfect sweet and lighthearted read. I’m giving it a full five stars!!
Nick and Charlie are best friends. Nick knows Charlie’s gay, and Charlie is sure that Nick isn’t.
But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is discovering all kinds of things about his friends, his family … and himself.
Heartstopper is about friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us.
This is the second volume of Heartstopper, with more to come. Volume two collects all of chapter three from the ongoing web series.
As you probably *just* read, I really loved Volume 1 and Volume 2 certainly didn’t disappoint! Compared to book 1, I would say that this volume was more about Nick and his perspective. It is particularly about his journey to self discovery as he realises that he isn’t straight.
I think I preferred the themes of this book to the first one as it dealt with subject matter that is significantly heavier but in a way that I am still getting an idea amount of wholesome goodness! Although it was touched on in volume one, this volume certainly spoke about homophobia at length and the consequences it has on young LGBTQ+ people. I thought it was super important to see mental health explored in this novel and I know just how important opening up that conversation is. I’m glad Oseman did it.
In this book, we are further introduced to Charlie’s friends, who actually end up having quite an important role later on. I really loved this group, particularly how everyone is supportive and kind to each other. I like seeing teenage friendships depicted as supportive and kind as opposed to the endless (often mean) drama I am exposed to in other books. That isn’t to say the group is perfect, but they were certainly realistic.
Overall, I really loved Volume 2 as well. I felt that the plot was more developed and the relationships between characters grew. I’m rating it a 4.9/5.
In this volume we’ll see the Heartstopper gang go on a school trip to Paris! Not only are Nick and Charlie navigating a new city, but also telling more people about their relationship AND learning more about the challenges each other are facing in private…
Meanwhile Tao and Elle will face their feelings for each other, Tara and Darcy share more about their relationship origin story, and the teachers supervising the trip seem… rather close…?
Of all of the Heartstopper books, this was probably my lest favourite. That being said, I still really loved it and I think if I was in the same headspace when I read volumes 1 and 2 I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more… Maybe I’m due for a reread!
The thing I enjoyed the most about this book was the plot. It discussed Charlie’s mental health at length which I find to be incredibly important for young readers to see represented. As for the story itself, a school trip to Paris is everything I have ever wanted so I spent a lot of time reading experiencing a fair mix of awe and jealousy (I really want to go to Paris, you guys).
The character development in this book was also super strong and I really loved seeing the changes in Charlie’s friend group as they learnt new things about themselves and each other. Their relationships were also all very strong throughout the group and I really loved how the book portrays communication within friendships as opposed to letting grievances fester.
One thing I didn’t love as much this time around was the relationship between Nick and Charlier. Don’t get me wrong, I am still positively OBSESSED with them but in this book there was less pining (a phenomenon I crave) and a lot more kissing. Normally this would be fine, encouraged even, but I feel like I’m intruding because it’s a graphic novel and Oseman knows how to write relationships so well that I feel like I need to leave them alone! I still don’t know if this is a good thing or not.
Overall, this book probably had the most developed plot and character development but I missed the pining that was present in book 1 and 2. I’m rating it a 4.6/5.
I hope you all enjoyed my reviews of the Heartstopper books, Volume 1-3! I really love these books and I can’t wait to read the fourth instalment whenever it comes out. In the meantime, I’ll be rereading the first three! Thank you again to Hachette for the review copies, I really appreciate it.
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