Check, Please!: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu
Genre: Graphic Novels, YA Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Sports Fiction, Coming of Age
Publication: September 18th 2018 by First Second Books
Series: Check, Please #1.
Length: 288 pages
Format: eARC from First Second Books
Helloooo, Internet Land. Bitty here!
Y’all… I might not be ready for this. I may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It’s nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking. And then, there is Jack—our very attractive but moody captain.
A collection of the first half of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.
Huge thanks to my friends from First Second Books for approving an e-copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This did not, in any way, affect my overall opinion of the book and/or the story.
Okay, let me just get this out. Bear with me for this review will mostly be centered on my love for Eric Bittle and his story. The first time I’ve heard of this graphic novel was on Twitter, when loads of my other online friends kept tweeting about their love for the Check, Please! webcomic and that it was going to be published under First Second Books! I found the cover interesting and so I went ahead and checked Goodreads for a rundown on the synopsis and the author. Again, I found it so alluring, I emailed my friends from First Second and immediately requested for a review copy. And thank god they approved an e-ARC for me over on NetGalley. I read it last May, and I fell so deeply in love with the story, the art, and the characters. Read on for a more detailed summary of my thoughts.
Modern LGBTQIA+ Representation
Nowadays, more members of the LGBTQIA+ community are sharing their coming out stories through more public ways such as via Youtube videos, Facebook posts, and Twitter threads. In Check, Please!, we get to know Eric Bittle through a series of vlogs that he posts online for his viewers to watch. Personally, I love the idea of vlogging and just documenting everyday life so as to make and keep treasured memories, and so to see so much of one’s sexuality, personality, and overall identity through this medium feels so uniquely personal to me. I appreciated Bittle’s way and pacing of telling his story, and he is one of the many reasons as to why I am OBSESSED with this graphic novel.
Amazingly Colorful Roster of Characters
The Samwell Men’s Hockey Team, (or the Bros, as they like to call themselves. Feel free to use whatever term you’d prefer.) was such a fun, intriguing, and entertaining group to get to know! I really, really enjoyed reading this because of how much I laughed out loud at all their jokes, and their soft masculinity was so, undeniably addicting! (Even though everyone, except Bitty, did try their best to be so manly…) I’ve only read this once and I actually sped through the pages and so I can’t name everyone, but rest assured that I’ll be re-reading this for months without end, trying my best to memorize all the names of the characters. I obviously cannot get enough of their story and so I seriously hope that the next book’s already in the process of being published as well.
The. Undeniable. Chemistry.
So this is the part where I’ll probably have a breakdown. While reading several scenes about Bitty and his… love interest (I won’t name this LI here to maintain a spoiler-free review), I literally squealed countless times, and whenever I read this at work, my co-workers would instantly approach me and ask if I’m feeling okay. I kept smiling, and making such high-pitched noises while reading this and so I think it’s an understatement to say that the romance and chemistry between Bittle and his LI is pretty well received. And please do take note of this: not all scenes were all filled with swoon and heart-eyes. Some scenes were also about the importance of one’s identity and the role that acceptance and love played in this was vital and so well-written. The romance that one can find in this book is, memorable, heartwarming, and one that I’m sure lots of readers, wherever they may be from, whatever their gender, will enjoy. *cries in bro-speak*
“Check, Please!: #Hockey is an amazingly engaging graphic novel. It tells a heartwarming, coming of age story, about a wonderful cast of characters. It made me laugh, it made me swoon, and it most certainly melted my heart in ways I didn’t know possible. My only regret about reading this was that it took me so long to discover Eric Bittle and his Samwell Hockey Team. With this, Ngozi Ukazu just gained a new, obsessed fan.”
Have YOU read Check, Please!: #Hockey yet? If not, be sure to grab a copy from your local book store and start reading it! And once you do, let me know what you think of it down below in the comments section!
JM is a 21 year old blogger from Manila. He has a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management mainly because it was too late when he discovered that literature and publishing is his true calling. He enjoys reading contemporary and fantasy novels as much as he enjoys playing video games and baking pastries. You may find him on his book blog, Book Freak Revelations, also on Twitter, Instagram, & Goodreads.