For those who know me, they’ll know there are a few things in life that I love a ridiculous amount. My husband, my dog, Disney, and Heartstopper.
For those of you who don’t know what that last one is, 1) how actually dare you, and 2) allow me to enlighten you. Heartstopper is an amazing LGBTQ+ webcomic-turned-graphic-novel from Alice Oseman (who may be one of the coolest people in the world) that follows the lives of Charlie and Nick, two teenagers from the south of England as they become friends and gradually fall in love with each other.
I first found out about Heartstopper about a year ago, when I was but a fresh faced bookseller who had just survived his first Christmas and was in DIRE need of some fluff. Cue the lovely people at Hachette sending me a box of Heartstopper goodies, including Volume 1 (which was about to be released) and that, dear reader, was it. I fell into a deep (and I mean DEEP) obsession. I read it in about an hour, woke my dog up squealing when The Kiss happened, and then immediately leapt online to keep reading and find out what happened.
Fast forward to now, and we’re told that Alice is coming up to Newcastle for the Heartstopper Volume 3 tour, and I’m offered the chance to interview her. Me. Little old me. Heartstopper Trash Number 1. Like I was ever going to say no! So, Martha, my partner in crime and constant thorn in my side, and I are drafted as the hosts for the night to talk about all things Heartstopper.
And so we start to plan.
Our aim for the night was to make it feel like a slumber party. Like we were just chatting about our favourite book in our living room, just a friendly, bookish, fangirly chat. And that is obviously why I made my bullet journal theme for February Heartstopper AND made a themed page for the questions/points that we wanted to talk about. Yes, I am that extra. No, I don’t have a problem. No, I really don’t. No, I’m not in denial about it, how dare you insinuate such a thing.
Monday 3rd February 2020. So far, the best day of 2020. No contest. It was a packed, sold out event (we were the first event of the tour to sell out, just saying), everyone seemed like they had a great time, I made some jokes that people laughed at, we talked about fanfic tropes, Nellie (Nick’s super adorable dog), and the future for the characters. Honestly, it was a blast and I genuinely don’t know if there could have been a better person to interview for my first time, than one of my all time favourite authors and someone who will soon have to deal with some awkward panel drawing for some other boys’ first times (if you catch my drift…)
At the last minute Martha and I decided that we’d try and dress up a bit, to try and vaguely match the fashion icon that is Alice Oseman, and I hope that we managed it. I think we did.
So, I guess I’d better actually review the book, right?
Heartstopper Volume 3 contains the entirety of Chapter 4 of Heartstopper, and picks up with boys being an established couple, and coming to terms with the need to come out. Over the course of the chapter, they, along with their close friends, prepare for and take a school trip to Paris, along with two teachers, Mr Farouk and Mr Ajayi, who are my precious children and who I love so very much.
Throughout the trip, Nick and Charlie have to deal with their relationship becoming public knowledge, including a slightly ill advised hickey, being caught making out behind some vending machines (we’ve all been there), and an “eventful” game of Spin The Bottle. But, despite the happy, fluffy feeling that the entire graphic novel has, it also deals with a lot of serious issues; eating disorders, homophobia, being outed, and dealing with your sexuality when you’re older. Each and everyone of these issues is a big deal, but Alice deals with them so thoughtfully and in such a realistic yet optimistic way, that even if you cry (which I did. A lot.), it’s more than likely due to how cute and wholesome and supportive the relationships between characters are.
The other characters are also given more time to shine in this chapter, with Tara and Darcy, the adorkable lesbian couple who are basically the female Charlie and Nick, shining through as a super cute image of a settled relationship, and Tao (Charlie’s best friend) and Elle (a trans girl who transferred from the boys’ school to the girls’ school) finally acknowledging their feelings for each other.
This volume is the longest one so far, and rightly so as it packs a lot into the 350 pages it takes up (not counting the bonus bits, like the Tao and Elle mini comic that looks back on their earlier friendship, or profiles of each character). But, it never feels too drawn out or too rushed. The pacing is excellent, moving at a natural speed that draws you in and makes you feel like a part of everything happening.
I could probably continue to rave about Heartstopper for the next thousand or so words, and go into the minute detail of every panel and placement of each leaf, but I won’t. Instead, I will show some rare self control.
Heartstopper Volume 3 is great. As a continuation to the series, it gives you even more to love about the characters, and continues to be a bright, happy, hopeful light when things can seem a bit grey and rubbish. Honestly, if you haven’t read it, go and get Volume 1, blitz through it as quickly as I did, and just enjoy what a squishy, sweet, gay as heck marshmallow this series is.
Heartstopper Volume 3 – Alice Oseman ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐