Hello everyone! I hope everyone is having a great day while reading this. I am aware that I’ve spent a lot of time without posting anything, but as per usual, life has gotten in the way. I haven’t actively tried to post anything in these past couple months because as I said in my comeback post, I won’t be pressuring myself anymore to stick to a strict posting schedule. This is the best decision I’ve made for myself, and makes my blog more of a safe space for me to take some stress off my shoulders as I originally intended it to be.
But I’m rambling now. Today, I’m going to be bringing you a post I spontaneously decided to make. Sometime has passed since I watched Heartstopper which got to become one of my favorite book-to-series adaptations ever, and even more time has passed since I read the books in January/February, but Nick and Charlie have been on my mind ever since. So today I want to be telling you a bit about what this story means to me in all its versions.
I apologize if this is a messy review. It is, actually, as I’m writing this introduction after writing the review itself, so I apologize beforehand for that. It isn’t the most well-structured review but since I launched this book I’ve found that I’m almost unable to form coherent thoughts about those books that meant the absolute world to me. So I’m trying. That along with the fact that I’m kind of rusted given that I haven’t written reviews in a while, so please bear with me. I’ll try to make you understand why I love these comics so hopefully you give the a try and fall in love with them as well.
Title: Heartstopper Volume 1: Boy Meets Boy
Author: Alice Oseman
Release date: October 1st, 2018
Page count: 278
Genre: Contemporary, Graphic Books, LGBTQ+ Books
Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound
Trigger warnings: Emotionally abusive relationship, one incident of a non-consensual kiss, brief references to past homophobia, including uses of homophobic slurs, brief references to past bullying.
For years and years, I’ve been hearing all kinds of amazing things about the Heartstopper comics, and for some reason I never felt like I wanted to read them for the fact that it was a comic and I hadn’t read any comics before. I think that automatically made me discard it from an option to my TBR. But as per usual (because I’m unable to stick to a TBR and always read what my instinct tells me), some good day in January I decided to give it a try to see what all the fuss was about.
It is perhaps the best decision I’ve made as a reader this whole year.
Heartstopper makes you fall in love with its characters from the very first page, it has a simple plot line (in the first book, as later on the book explores more complex topics), but its endearing characters, the way it encourages the audience to celebrate who they are instead of rejecting it or feeling ashamed by it, and the feel-good vibes of the story makes it the perfect comfort book not just by the audience its intended for (teens) but for everyone who wants to dive into a story that will leave them with a sweet aftertaste.
Heartstopper follows Charlie Spring, as he has to face a tough breakup with someone that just wasn’t right for him, and in what feels like the perfect time is paired with Nick Nelson for a school project, and has an immediate crush for him, but feels that it’s impossible for anything to happen between them as he is, as per described in the comics, the straightest guy at school. The first installment of this comic navigates friendship, family, love, figuring out and embracing your sexuality, and more.
It is hard for me to write about a story that means so much to me, so whatever I’ll say here will fall short for what I feel for Heartstopper. The thing I like the most about this book is how safe you feel while reading it… at home, is the best way for me to describe it. Everyone is so welcoming, so good to each other, so understanding and the main element we can see in these books is a strong support net not only in the homes of the main characters (Charlie, his siblings and parents – Nick, his mom and his pet Nellie) but also in their friend group which I grew to adore, as in it the author makes sure to show situations that teen friend groups face in a daily basis (feeling replaced whenever someone new comes along, wanting to protect your friend but end up hurting them instead, as well as working on solving all these issues). That said, it is inevitable to see yourself reflected on the different situations we can see throughout the story.
It goes without saying that my favorite characters are Nick and Charlie. Their chemistry and bond not only as a couple but also as friends, is so pure and strong, here and throughout all the four comics that have been published so far, we can see a healthy relationship in which they help each other in face their own personal struggles, making them come out stronger and more united than they were before. To see that without unnecessary dramas, toxic behavior, and all the negative stuff we often see in other fiction projects and in our own daily lives, makes for what to me was a very necessary break from the usual approach to relationships in general.
But don’t get me wrong. The fact that this book is full of positive aspects and an overall pure, innocent and feel-good aura doesn’t make it unrealistic in any way. I think that it’s actually the contrary. I felt that Heartstopper shows how you can live your life away from the lies, the cheating, the dramas, the unnecessary fights, and all that kind of negative stuff if you and the people you surround yourself with make an actual effort for it. It’s a book that made me strive for a life like theirs, in that sense –one in which you focus on yourself and those you love, paying no mind to everything else.
I won’t extend too much on the LGBTQ+ topic because as I’m not part of the community I don’t have the right to “review” whether the representation was good or not. But one thing I can tell you is that the comics show all kinds of diversity –there is gay, lesbian, trans, bi, and other kinds of representation. There is space and visibility for each and every one and that’s one of the things I liked the most about these comics.
There is really no bad thing I can say about these comics. In them I’ve been able to find a safe space, and I can’t wait for the final installment to come out. It has become one of my favorite books mainly for the vibes it has, for what it communicates, and for what it stands for. It’s one of those fiction works I wished I would’ve read sooner, and if you haven’t yet, I highly suggest you to give it chance. You won’t regret it.
THE NETFLIX SERIES
This is the first series review I will be making on the blog, and while I’m no series expert (though I love oh so many), I wanted to talk a bit about this series which also stole my heart and made me love and cherish this story even more.
If you follow me on my Twitter account you’ll find that when it came out, I wasn’t able to tweet about anything else.
Though as I said above I’m no expert, I’m very picky about adaptations because while I’m aware that they can’t include each and every little detail about the books, I expect them to at least make me feel what the book made me feel, to have those same vibes, and for the cast to have the same essence of the characters. I have to say that Heartstopper, the series, did all that and more for me.
Every member of the cast, in my opinion, fit perfectly with their characters. Of course, Nick and Charlie (Kit Connor and Joe Locke respectively) stood out the most to me. It’s just as if the characters jumped out of the page, not only in their physical appearance but they were also able to capture their personalities really well. Other outstanding characters to me were Charlie’s sister Tori, which was so similar to the book version that scared me a little even, Charlie’s best friends Tao and Elle. Isaac, though doesn’t appear in the main group of friends from the comics originally, also got my heart and it was one of the characters I related with the most (being in the back reading a book while those around me find love? I never felt more identified).
And, oh God, the leaves. I have to talk about the leaves and how the first time I saw them I almost collapsed. I was delighted to see they took the time to include a detail that means so much for those of us who read (and loved) the comics. Besides that, we also have the little rainbows that appear here and there, an ode to the LGBTQ+ flag, and how similar were the rooms of the main characters to those Alice Oseman originally drew for the comics. The creators took care of every little detail, and as a reader I felt deeply grateful for it.
To me, this series was as similar and faithful to the comics as it could be. Every important detail was shown, and like in the comics, it always leaves you wanting more. As in the books, the series also hinted at some topics that will be addressed in the future, like Charlie’s issue with food (of which I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil anyone) and the growing feelings between Tao and Elle.
There is really nothing bad I can say about this series, either. I’m so excited to see the next season (because in case you don’t know it, Netflix confirmed there will be at least two other seasons!) and in the mean time I will be rewatching the first one non-stop.
That is all for today’s post! I hope you liked it and that it was somehow coherent, haha.
Have you watched or read Heartstopper? Who is your favorite character? Do you have any book recommendations similar to this story? Let me know in the comments!
‘Til next time!