otrbristol | 5th May 2020

Blog post: Heartstopper

Hello everyone and welcome back to OTR’s Book Club blog, where Bryony from the group writes up the verdict on the latest book we’ve delved into…

The cover of an online cartoon series ,‘Heartstopper’ by Alice Osman.

This week was a bit of a strange one – we couldn’t get hold of a physical copy of our chosen book in time, soooo we improvised and read Heartstopper by Alice Oseman.

Heartstopper is an online cartoon series which explores love, friendship, loyalty, mental illness and sexuality. It encompasses the small stories of the two main characters, Nick and Charlie.

First, we talked about how we found it reading a web comic. Many of the members, including me, had never read one before! Personally, I usually hate reading on a screen so was a little sceptical about how I’d get on with Heartstopper. However, I was pleasantly surprised! Due to the nature of a comic, I didn’t have to squint to follow what was going on and following the pictures was great fun!

Enya was in the same boat, also having never read a web comic before. She said the only comics she’d read were the Beano and Dandy so found the web comic very exciting.

The overwhelming opinion for most of us was that we found it very relatable and accessible! The characters are around 14/15 and Nat and Enya said it took them back to being that age, which I think a lot of us agreed with.

Charlotte G weighed in and said that when the comic started out, it really focused on the characters, not just the gay romance of it. However, she feels that as the comic has grown in popularity, the fan base has become predominately teenage girls and now it’s becoming more of a cliché. Rose said she feels that the story started out simplistic as you got to know the backgrounds of the characters but that even in chapter 3 she felt some bits were a little cliché. Nat and I agreed with this, but even with the cliché we said we all still really liked it!

Evie gave us a unique insight as they had read the book that came before Heartstopper, called Solitaire. They said it she was able to see more depth in the characters as she already knew a lot about the background characters and family, which the rest of us felt like we were missing.

Then the conversation naturally drew away from Heartstopper and we spoke about if we preferred physical books or online/e-books. Maisie started us off by saying how she feels more of an emotional connection to a physical book because it she feels like it’s hers and e-books feel more distant somehow, which I think resonated with a lot of us. Rose came in with the very interesting point that for her, the whole Kindle feels like it has a lot of memories with it, as it’s not just from one book, it’s from multiple!

Enya gave us a great point that she even feels that there’s something magical about having a physical copy of something to hand but web comics retain their magic by being solely on the ‘web’.

However, having a kindle doesn’t compare to the physical copy anymore. Going to a bookshop and finding a book is still just as magical as it always has been.

Nat brought up something that I hadn’t really thought of – that’s it’s more cost effective to have it for free if you’re reading it really quickly! I know personally that I’ve ready shorter books that I’ve bought in a day or two and then thought about how I already needed to spend money on the next one!!

We had a great session with lots of varied discussions and it was really interesting to hear everyone’s different viewpoints. I’m really looking forward to next month when we will be reading Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy!

If you’d like to sign up to join the OTR Book Club, you can do so here.