Alice Oseman is one of the most interesting voices in UK young adult fiction right now, and one of my favourite creators across the board. This started as a review of Solitaire, but has quickly descended into a celebration of the magical stuff that Oseman creates. Stick with me.
I’ve previously spoken about Radio Silence, her second novel, and I had been saving Solitaire in some form of protectionism, determined to make sure I always had one spare (yes I know this is weird, okay). I realised I had to get over this, and just let myself enjoy it. So I did. And I did.
Tori Spring is a dry witted cynic, who spends most of her time being sarcastic on the internet – here is her tumblr set before the start of the novel (yes really). But one day, Tori comes across the mysterious Solitaire and their public demonstrations – are they a group of pranksters, or are their motives more sinister? And why do they seem to always turn up when Tori is around? Not only is she dealing with a shadowy organisation, but she seems to have gained a friend in Michael Holden, possibly the most colourful positive antithesis to her. Are the rumours that dog Holden true? Will Tori and Michael get the root of Solitaire before something really bad happens?
Solitaire is Oseman’s debut novel, released while she was still a teenager, written in her bed after school and partially inspired by the first series of Skins. I absolutely loved this book. Tori is a great character; fiercely protective of her younger brother Charlie and his care, while also unable to see her own needs. She is witty and complex, and utterly relatable to depressed struggling teenagers. And Michael Holden is just the cutest little perfect bean in the whole world. I’m sorry, it’s true.
What I didn’t know before was that her novels are all set in the same universe, with shared characters and settings. Not only that, but Oseman draws fan art of her characters, which has since evolved into Heartstopper, a comic all about two of my favourite characters from Solitaire, Tori’s brother Charlie and his boyfriend Nick. I’ve been a Patreon backer since Alice launched it but hadn’t read it until November because of the whole not reading Solitaire, saving art so that there’s always some more etc etc. But what I’m saying is you must must must read Solitaire then go binge Heartstopper, which is the story of how Nick and Charlie got together. Oseman has stated that she intends to produce a book of Heartstopper in the future and has already created a short comic which you can pick up a digital copy of here.
She also has two ebook novellas that follow on from Solitaire which you can get here – Nick and Charlie and This Winter. I sincerely hope that her publishers publish these in hard format in the future!
You can also go find out which of Alice’s character is most like you in this handy quiz. I was surprised but very happy to discover I was Charlie Spring, and Tim got Tori. Almost as good as us getting Narlie.
ALSO, Alice does commissions, and did my new Twitter avi. Commission her here!
And, on top of all this, Alice has just announced the cover for her third book, I Was Born For This, which I am extremely here for.
introducing the cover of my 3rd YA novel
🧡I WAS BORN FOR THIS🧡
a book about band boys, fangirls, & learning to believe in yourself.
out May 3rd! pre-order:
Amazon UK: https://t.co/AlzvCXydIY
Amazon US: https://t.co/1vQ1RFT2dL
— Alice Oseman (@AliceOseman) February 1, 2018
What to read next:
- Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (and the following books, Upside of Unrequited and forthcoming Leah on the Offbeat)
- My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz