Aaaah! This is so exciting! I've wanted to do a Heartstopper post for absolutely ages and I've never gotten round to it BUT THAT CHANGES TODAY PEOPLE. This is a bumper blog post featuring mini reviews of all three volumes, a Heartstopper personality test and tons of other gay smush.
The Heartstopper Personality Test!
Take the test and see which Heartstopper character you are most like. Don't forget to leave a comment and share your result! I'd love to know who you got!
(This quiz displays differently on mobile devices. You may need to scroll to see all the answers! Alternatively you can take the quiz here)
Disclaimer: This quiz is completely unofficial and just me being a total fanboy. All illustrations and characters belong to the wonderful Alice Oseman.
What is Heartstopper?
Heartstopper is an ongoing webcomic by Alice Oseman that tells the stories of teenagers Charlie Spring and Nick Nelson who meet in secondary school and fall in love. The boys first appear in Alice's debut novel Solitaire as side-characters, and in Heartstopper Alice explores their backstory in more detail. Three volumes have been published so far, with a fourth book currently in the works.
Heartstopper Vol. 1
Find me a better meet-cute than Charlie and Nick. GO ON - I DARE YOU!
These boys are absolutely precious and watching their friendship flourish in Volume 1 is like being on the receiving end of a warm hug. Charlie is full of anxiety and self-doubt having been outed at school last year and the victim of some pretty horrific bullying. He's trying his best to keep it together but you can see just how fragile he is.
ENTER NICK NELSON, rugby jock with a heart of gold.
Nick is possibly one of my favourite YA characters. He goes against all the stereotypes and shows that you can be queer and a great athlete, dispelling the idea that sport has to be a toxic masculine environment filled with homophobia.
One of the things I love about Heartstopper is that it's a real feel-good book. Alice is showing teens what a healthy relationship looks like and I love the innocence to all of her characters. There's this weird thing in manga where M/M romances are fetishised and they are filled with some pretty toxic tropes so I love that Heartstopper is focusing on the awkward first love stories and showing them in this beautifully tender way. This is, without question, the book I needed when I was Nick and Charlie's age. I went through secondary school so confused by my attraction to boys and I wasn't able to accept it until starting university. That's a lot of years of self-loathing and I'm glad that today's teens have access to stories like Heartstopper that tell you it's okay to be you.
There's something distinctly British about Heartstopper and it just makes the whole thing so much more relatable. I mentioned in my review of Simon James Green's Alex in Wonderland that so many of the LGBTQ+ YA bestsellers seem to be American titles so it's great to see some homegrown talent and I absolutely love championing this book in the bookshop where I work. Alice's artwork is phenomenal (look at the kiss scene below and how the panel is dissolving into flower petals! UGH!) and her characters are fully-formed and wonderfully diverse. I challenge anyone not to fall in love with these boys.
Heartstopper Vol. 2
Picking up from the colossal cliffhanger of Vol. 1, this volume deals with Nick as he begins to come to terms with his sexual identity and takes steps to come out to his friends and family.
One of the things I liked about this volume was that it acknowledged that "coming out" is an ongoing process. There's friends, family, co-workers. Just when you think you've told everyone there is to tell, something else pops up and you've got to go through the awkwardness of coming out all over again. For Nick this presents a real dilemma, and despite the obvious love he has for Charlie, you can see the pain he's in as he tries to get his head around his bisexuality and figures out how to tell those around him.
There were a couple of scenes in this book that really resonated with me: the scene where Nick tells his mum that Charlie is his boyfriend and the scene where the two boys hold hands in the cinema. I can still vividly recall coming out to my mam as gay and registering the tears and shock on her face. It was truly a horrific ordeal to go through though I'm glad I can say she's the most supportive parent I could ask for and I feel so much better now that I don't have to hide who I am. Seeing Nick in tears as he tells his mum about Charlie brought back a lot of memories and I desperately wanted to reach into the pages of the book and give Nick a hug and tell him it's okay - he did it!
I also remember holding hands with my boyfriend for the first time in a darkened cinema screen (we were watching Love, Simon so pretty on brand for us). Even though we were in the front row and the lights were out, I still couldn't help feel nervous that someone would see us holding hands and try to start a fight. It takes time to conquer those fears and I applaud Alice Oseman for how realistically she's portrayed Nick as he slowly comes to terms with his sexuality.
Despite Nick's struggle and the odd homophobic dickhead, Volume 2 of Heartstopper is actually a remarkably hopeful story. The boys are now official and they're joined by some brilliant supporting characters from all across the LGBTQ+ spectrum. In the past when I've read queer fiction I've always found it a bit ridiculous that there's only ever one gay character (don't they know we hang out in groups?!) so I was glad to see a variety of gender / sexual identities within Nick and Charlie's friendship group. Overall, a fantastic follow-up to Volume 1 with some wonderfully romantic moments and some superbly paced character progression.
Heartstopper Vol. 3
The latest Heartstopper book follows Nick and Charlie as they head off on a school trip to France - the country of loooove!
Warning: While the previous two volumes have touched on issues like depression and bullying, it's worth noting that things get a little bit darker in Volume 3, with references to eating disorders and self-harming. It goes without saying that Alice handles these topic with the sensitivity we've come to expect from her stories but these topics can be triggering for some people so it's handy to know what you're going to be up against.
One of my favourite things about Volume 3 is that background characters like Elle, Darcy and Tao (to name a few) become main characters in their own right. There are new romances blossoming and I've absolutely loved getting to learn each of their backstories. I think my favourite character, however, is Truham science teacher Mr Farouk! This man gives me LIFE.
I don't want to go into too much detail about this volume because it's only just been published and spoilers - so all I will say is that you can really feel things progressing in this volume and I'm excited to see where the story is going to go next. Relationships are continuing to develop and there are a lot of characters that I'm desperate to find out more about. Also I hate Nick's brother. Sorry not sorry.
Which character did you get in the personality test?
What's your favourite thing about Heartstopper?
Leave a comment and let me know!