Saturday, October 8, 2022

REVIEW: Heartstopper (graphic novel, vol. 2) by Alice Oseman

Heartstopper is a high school romance graphic novel series. Although the primary relationship is between two boys, there are several other relationships in the background that occasionally get some page-time and might feature more prominently later on, such as one involving a lesbian couple and a potential relationship between a boy and a trans girl.

This review includes slight spoilers.


This picks up a little after the events of volume 1. Charlie is convinced that he has now ruined the friendship between him and Nick by kissing Nick. Nick, meanwhile, instantly regretted bailing on Charlie but is also still overwhelmed by a confusing jumble of feelings. He decides to go to Charlie's and talk to him, only for the two of them to admit that they really like each other and kiss again. They decide to become a couple but keep it between themselves for now, because Nick isn't really comfortable with the idea of coming out yet and hasn't even settled on what label applies to him, although "bisexual" sounds more appropriate than "gay."

The rest of the volume is devoted to Nick and Charlie spending time with each other and just generally being really bad at hiding their feelings for each other. As it turns out, however, there are people blind enough to see them making heart eyes at each other and not realize that they're in a relationship. Tao, one of Charlie's friends, is worried that Nick will end up hurting Charlie the way Ben did. Charlie, meanwhile, doesn't mind keeping his and Nick's relationship private, but he's not wild about spending time with some of Nick's friends.

This was not as heavy and angsty a volume as the end of volume 1 made me think it might be. Nick was very worried that he might inadvertently hurt Charlie with his request to keep their relationship secret for now - he's well aware of how Ben hurt Charlie. However, Charlie is keenly aware of how painful being outed to everyone before you're ready can be - he's genuinely okay with giving Nick the space he needs to become more comfortable and figure himself out. Basically, they were two fluffy, cotton candy-sweet guys who fell over each other apologizing for anything they thought might make the other person uncomfortable or upset.

Charlie's friends, for the most part, welcomed Nick into their group activities with open arms. Nick's friends, on the other hand, weren't quite so great. I wonder if Oseman will make the fallout with Nick's friends a bigger deal in volume 3, or whether it will really be as easy as Nick just saying "I'm done with you all because you're horrible to Charlie"? Granted, several of Nick's friends weren't exactly what I'd call "friends," but cutting things off with your entire friend group is still a pretty big deal.


Nick and Charlie's idea of casual vs. smart clothes, Nick and Charlie's diary entries about the events at the start of the volume, several character profiles, and a 10-page mini comic about the first time Tara and Darcy kissed each other.

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