Book It or Look It: Heartstopper


Delaney Brenner, Staff Writer

We’re back! After a five-month hiatus, I finally have found a book and TV show duo worth writing about. I’ll just imagine there’s some applause and light cheering happening now. So thank you. 

Really? No one cares about you or your writing that much. Even if they did, you totally lost them by being gone for so long.

I’m going to ignore you. The book for today is called Heartstopper. It’s actually a graphic novel series written by Alice Oseman. The “look” is the Netflix series, with eight episodes and hopefully a Season 2, by the same name. Both have received critical acclaim.


Starting off with the book per usual, I really enjoyed the series. Now I don’t actually remember where one volume stops and the other begins, but I believe the show covers the first and second volumes. My goal is to write this comparison without spoilers; however, I make no promises so either read with caution or go read the books first!


The graphic novel style means that Oseman relies more on her drawings than actual words to move the story along. This is a benefit to the storytelling because her art is both simplistic and detailed. By that I mean the background, movements, and facial expressions are extremely well-drawn without being overly cartoonish.

The plot itself is a cute, coming-of-age, LGBTQ+ story that deals with real-life issues. There are discussions of mental health struggles (not as present in the first two volumes) as well as bullying, homophobia, and transphobia. Oseman treats each problem with the respect it deserves while also allowing her characters to downplay conflicts as regular people do. 

I feel like there is more to be said here as this does not quite reflect how much I enjoyed the novels but I’m trying to stick to the no spoilers policy which makes it quite difficult.

Now for the TV series.

Get ready for a scathing review.

Actually, I quite enjoyed the show.

Oh- that’s surprising. 

Ha. Ha. There were of course major differences between the series and the novels, even though Oseman was both a writer and an executive producer. In this case, though, I appreciated the changes. 

I think you’re lying to me.

I promise I’m not. I did not like all of them but for the most part, it was good. Certain scenes were moved around or were not present in the show while others were created just for the show. The reasoning for certain actions, such as one of the main characters Charlie Spring keeping a secret from his best friend Tao Xu, were changed as well but it did not negatively affect the story. 

My favorite change from the book to the show was the addition of storylines. In the show, Tao, Elle, Tara, and Darcy are mainly side characters. They are all friends but we do not know much about their backstories. However, the show devotes more time to their lives and emotions which deepens the understanding of bonds between characters and how relationships developed. 

One note that people have mentioned about the show is that the dialogue can be a little cheesy at times. This is true, but it’s largely because most of it is pulled directly from the novels. As mentioned before Oseman relies more on her drawings so the words are allowed to be slightly cringy, it’s more realistic that way too. 

Another aspect of the show that I appreciate is the inclusion of animation. While the series is created with real actors, small leaves, butterflies, sparks, and other drawings appear at times of high emotion. These details are also used in the novels and it is a great way to tie the two together and pay homage to the art that first brought the story to life. 

Are you sure you don’t have any more complaints?

I actually don’t think I do. 

Wait, wait there is one.

I knew it!

In the final episode, Nick Nelson runs into the water (at the beach) WITH HIS SHOES ON. That was very uncomfortable. But actually looking back it seems to happen in the book too? There’s a bit of discontinuity. He runs towards the water with his shoes on but then afterward has no shoes. Maybe the ocean ate them.

That’s it?

That’s it. Onto the rating I guess. It was definitely more difficult to decide this time but here we go: lo-

Oh my gosh?!? Are we actually going to get a “look it” for once? I don’t believe this!
-oks like “book it” wins yet again!

You’re joking. How could you do this to me?

I’m sorry. It was kind of funny though.

Not to me. I’m not talking to you anymore.

Ouch. My bad. Well, anyway that’s just about it. That will probably be the final “Book it or Look it!” as well so I hope you enjoyed it.

Wait, wait, wait. The final??

I thought you weren’t talking to me? But yes. Final, last, terminal, closing, culmination, the one following penultimate. 

I know what final means. Just- why?

I have exams coming up and I probably won’t have time to find, read, and watch a whole new literary work and its cinematic counterpart. Plus, I graduate in June so there will be no comeback next year. 

Wow. This is really the end. 

Sadly. Now we actually have to let it finish. Remember-

Can I close it off?

Go ahead.

Remember to read the book before the show or movie but still watch it to get a new perspective and enjoy the audio/visual version to see your favorite characters come to life and appreciate the adaptation. Unless of course, it is the movies that will not be named that are thankfully getting a TV show in the near future. In that case, just hate on the “look” and live, love, books. 

That went slightly tangential but the point is there. I think. Maybe squint a little? Anyway, happy reading and watching!