Date Started: 9th February 2019
Date Finished: 9th February 2019
Time taken to read: 1 day
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heartstopper is an LGBTQIA+ contemporary graphic novel, which focuses on the developing friendship and burgeoning relationship between Charlie and Nick. Two teenagers who meet when the form structure changes at their secondary school throws them together. Charlie is more quiet and sedate individual at his school, following a hinted previously challenging time after he first came out. Whereas Nick is a considerably popular and well-liked Rugby player, who has only had relationships and attractions to girls.
Going into Heartstopper, I was a little concerned initially if the art style would be difficult for me to enjoy, as it is quite minimalist in style. Ordinarily my typical graphic novel preferences seem to involve quite a bright colour palette, whereas Heartstopper was in black and white. Thankfully, however, the art style in this graphic novel seems to have worked perfectly with this story. The slightly more understated images work with a romance story that slips into the everyday, whilst being wonderfully charming and sweet.
I personally found it very easy to become attached to both of our main characters, Nick is a human teddy bear (and I love how the artist reflects this within the art style), whereas Charlie although more reserved is no less endearing. It was easy to be invested in their interactions and root for them because of how they were presented and the challenges (both internal and external) that both were dealing with.
Heartstopper does manager to include some slightly more difficult themes (homophobia, coercive behaviour, self-identity) without, in my opinion, being uncomfortably graphic. I cannot however advise whether these may or may not be triggering to some readers. They also felt realistic to the experience that may be felt by the characters given their somewhat more comfortable backgrounds. But given the target audience, I believe it is important that these themes were there for others to be able to either identify if their relationship help any familiar traits, or to provide support that you may not be alone in how you are thinking or feeling.
(My award for cutest character though does without a doubt go to Nellie, who I accidentally cooed over aloud before remembering that she is indeed a fictional, cartoon dog.) I am really looking forward to volume 2 of this series, to find out more detail of where things will go for Charlie and Nick given where the story ended. I am also considering potentially reading the author’s pervious novel focusing on Charlie’s sister, from which this story was spawned.
TLDR? Cute LGBTQIA+ graphic novel, with minimalistic black and white art style. I love Nellie (a dog), Nick is a Teddy Bear and Charlie deserves everything.