Genre: graphic novel with lgbt main characters (m/m romance) & mental illness
Pages: 278 (vol. 1)
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…
Rating out of five: five
Alice Oseman is great at telling stories in general (see “I was born for this” and “Radio silence” for more proof). Solitaire is the only book I didn’t like from her, which made me more wary going into this one since it’s a spin-off. I don’t think you need to read the novel before to fall in love with this one, but it does give more context and might make it even better. Through this novel I even got a better sense of what Oseman was trying to do with the characters of Solitaire, it was apparent that she cares for them deeply and seeing the big sister (protagonist in Solitaire) from the brother’s perspective and in graphic novel format was so endearing and made me like the book more, well no more like the characters, in hindsight.
The illustration style is both extremely cute and just informal enough. The m/m romance starts so innocent, with two teenage boys figuring themselves out and where being friends stop and flirting starts. They’re both so adorably awkward and comfortable throughout it all. Meeting through sports team has become a trope I’m really into all of a sudden this pride month (having read the amazing “Running with lions” by Julian Winters as well).
This volume and the rest of this on-going series is actually a webcomic which you can get for free at tapas here and is regularly updated by Oseman! The story only gets better (if that’s even possible) as I’ve of course read through it all straight after I was done with vol. 1 and I can’t wait to hold vol. 2 in my hands as well. I really need to get more into queer webcomics and graphic novels. Fence by C. S. Pacat is next on my list.
Feelings while reading this book: smiling from ear to ear, making sounds of cuteness overload and me physically freezing in place when someone tries bullying Charlie (like the big sister I am).