As a lover of the work of Alice Oseman, the time had come for me to try one of her books that began as a WebComic. Part one of ‘Heartstopper’ is a colourful book that explores the beginnings of an LGBTQ relationship which is now going to be played out in a Netflix show.
Having already read her novella, ‘Nick and Charlie’, I was already familiar with these teenage characters and their intriguing dynamic. ‘Heartstopper’ turned out to be a well drawn comic that showed how neurotic Charlie and curious Nick first crossed paths at school. Nick was a protective friend who soon discovered a strange connection with Charlie and Alice wrote a story which explored their journey sensitively.
In a Nutshell
Charlie Spring is a seventeen year old geek (I consider a geek to be a positive term as I am one myself) who is openly gay and has a secret arrangement with a guy called Ben (who is very closeted, apparently). There is no love in this relationship and Charlie is starting to realise how used he has become.
Nick Nelson comes onto his radar as a very ‘straight-acting’ 18 year old who is very much into Rugby and seems to fit into the right kind of crowds. To Charlie’s surprise, Nick is not quite so predictable and actually shows signs of wanting to be close friends with him.
The rest is for you to discover in this brilliant LGBT+ story of attraction, confusion and general awkwardness. It is a sweet romance that is modern and involves really relatable characters.
Having watched an interview with the author, I realised that this book began as instalments of regular tumblr comic strips, with Alice adding up to ten pages every couple of weeks. Set in England, I could relate to the surroundings and situations and was impressed by the smooth flow of the narrative. It was easy to empathise with Charlie and his anxiety about himself. Similarly, Nick came across as very realistic, being a popular guy feeling uncertain about his feelings, yet trying to keep up appearances.
The story was fun, sweet and thought-provoking and shows just how clever Alice is at writing realistic YA content. I will certainly be reading the next few books in the series as I want to know how things played out for the leads. If you like YA books then this one is a very easy read with lots of pictures and a good coverage of LGBTQ issues.
Heartstopper Rating : 5 stars
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