All The Books I Can Read

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Review: Heartstopper Volume 2 by Alice Oseman

Heartstopper Volume #2
Alice Oseman
Hodder Children’s Books
2019, 296p
Read from my local library

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. An LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between: this is the second volume of HEARTSTOPPER, for fans of The Art of Being Normal, Holly Bourne and Love, Simon.

Nick and Charlie are best friends. Nick knows Charlie’s gay, and Charlie is sure that Nick isn’t.

But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is discovering all kinds of things about his friends, his family … and himself.

Heartstopper is about friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us.

This is the second volume of Heartstopper, with more to come. Volume two collects all of chapter three from the ongoing web series.

Recently I read the first volume of this and thought it was one of the cutest things ever. I had read it for a challenge I was participating in but I’d requested both of the volumes together from my local library. This one was either still on order or was checked out and I was 2nd or 3rd in line, I can’t remember which. However it only became available for me last week but I couldn’t wait to get to it after reading the first volume.

Charlie is one of, if not the only openly gay teen at his school. He was outed before the volumes begin and faced quite a bit of backlash for it. It’s mostly died down now though and he is pretty much left alone by the student body. His school changed their homeroom-type class which put him with Nick, a year above him. They became firm friends with Charlie trying to avoid falling for ‘the straight guy’. He failed though and volume one ended with the two of them sharing a kiss and then Charlie bolting, afraid he’d ruined their friendship.

This book is more so about Nick trying to figure himself out. He’s always thought he was straight but the more time he spent with Charlie, the more he admired him for handling being outed and what came of it. He is also quite protective of him and has intervened with people giving Charlie a hard time. Nick slowly came to realise that he might not be exactly straight and now he’s still trying to figure out what he is. He knows that he likes Charlie but he isn’t sure he’s ready to out himself yet and he just needs a bit of time to figure out who he is and how these new feelings fit in.

Despite the fact that Nick isn’t ready to tell people about what is going on between them yet, that he’s attracted to Charlie and wants to explore that, be with him, it’s not like how it was in the first book with Charlie and the boy that hooked up with him in secret. Nick isn’t ashamed or reluctant, he’s just figuring out his feelings and he and Charlie speak openly and honestly about how they are feeling, what they are feeling, what they need etc. Charlie has no issue with keeping things quiet for Nick to recalibrate his sexual orientation. I really appreciated seeing them have such open and honest communication, even after things kinda go a bit wrong. They can’t stay away from each other for long!

I’m amazed with how much gets conveyed here in the format. I don’t read a lot of (ie any) graphic novels and these have such sweet drawings that successfully showcase quite a lot of words and feelings. There’s a lot of kissing, Charlie and Nick establishing some new friendships and Nick realising just what Charlie would have experienced when everyone found out that he was gay. I think for Nick, he gets a bit of a wake up call as to how horrible his friends can be, which was perhaps a good thing to learn so that he can be ready for dealing with it when he decides to go public with his and Charlie’s relationship. Nick is a strong character, he’s just confused and there’s nothing wrong with taking the time to sort through your feelings and be sure of them, feel comfortable, before you involve other people.

I enjoyed this just as much as book one and now I can’t wait for book three. Unfortunately that’s a much longer wait as it doesn’t come out until February of 2020 and then I need to make sure my library gets it in and that I’m high up in the queue!

8/10

Book #199 of 2019

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Review: Heartstopper Volume 1 by Alice Oseman

Heartstopper Volume 1 
Alice Oseman
Hodder Children’s Books
2019, 288p
Read from my local library

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?  

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore, and he’s sort of got a boyfriend, even if he’s kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.

Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.

They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…

Well this was stinking cute!

I don’t really read graphic novels, but I had heard such good things about this from quite a few corners that I decided I wanted to give it a go. Maybe it would be the gateway to reading more of them! My library had it available although it was checked out. I placed a request, not really expecting anything as it wasn’t due back until November. However the person who had it must be a fast reader because it was returned and waiting for me within a couple of days and therefore it became part of my Mate-A-Thon TBR and the first book I completed for that, ticking off my first challenge.

Charlie’s school instigates new homerooms for them and he’s placed next to Nick, a boy a grade above him. Charlie is openly gay and although he did suffer some bullying when it became public, it’s mostly all died down now. Nick is a rugby player, kind-hearted and gentle and he makes an effort to befriend Charlie when they’re sat together. At first Charlie is a bit wary of this new found friendship – some of the other rugby boys were the worst in the bullying stakes but Nick wasn’t ever one of them. Eventually he comes to accept the offering and the two begin spending a lot of time together. Nick even teaches Charlie to play rugby as they’re down a player and Charlie is a very fast runner.

Charlie is already ‘out’ and even thinks he kind of has a boyfriend, a boy named Ben that he meets up with in secret. Eventually Charlie comes to realise that this isn’t perhaps what he wants from a relationship, some hasty making out where no one can see them and it’s not something that will ever be public. He finds the courage to end things with Ben, telling him that he doesn’t want to meet up anymore. Ben doesn’t take rejection well and begins attempting to harass Charlie, almost trying to bully him into doing what he wants. Charlie is an amiable boy but he’s not a pushover and he’s already realising that he has a bit of a crush on his seat mate, Nick.

The more time Nick and Charlie spend together, the more Nick begins to question his own feelings and his own sexuality. I don’t think it’s something that has occurred to him before but the way in which he has connected with Charlie puts the thoughts in his mind. He’s also quite protective of Charlie, wanting to keep him from Ben’s brand of affection and also keep the other rugby guys from giving him too hard a time. Nick is lovely! He has a lot of maturity, especially with his feelings, although that’s not to say he doesn’t have some confusion.

It did take me a little while to settle in to reading something with almost no words……there are plenty of pages where there’s less than 10 words probably and even the most wordy only has a brief conversation. And I had to study the comics a little, learn who everyone is but after that I was surprise just how much of the story was conveyed through the drawings and how much I enjoyed the format. It’s not something I have a lot of experience reading, I’ve read a few before but they were actually just graphic novel versions of books I’d already read (Vampire Academy) and one pretty terrible graphic novel of a Karen Marie Morning book which had great illustrations but pretty much just ignored a bunch of canon from the series. I think this is the first time I’ve read something I was completely unfamiliar with but I absolutely loved it and I was devastated when it ended on such a note! I’m desperate for Volume 2 now, which I have requested already through my library. I’m 2nd in the queue so I’m anxiously and impatiently waiting for the people ahead of me to be done! I need to know what happens (although I think there’s a Volume 3 coming next year so I may not get all the answers I’m waiting for just yet). Also I need to read everything else that Alice Oseman has ever written. So I’m off to request all of those too!

8/10

Book #167 of 2019

 

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