I'm a junior on the Samwell men's hockey team now, and not only do I have new teammates and new responsibilities and new pies to bake... I've got a new beau. (Remember me) Believe me: Dating a professional hockey player wasn't anything I expected to do in college. My parents don't know; my teammates have no clue...
And Jack and I aren't sure that we want to keep it a secret.
Ngozi Ukazu is an American cartoonist and graphic novelist. She is the author of the online graphic novel series Check, Please!. She studied at Yale University and the Savannah College of Art and Design.
I absolutely hate to say it, but I didn't really love this conclusion. I'm currently averaging about 2 full-length novels a day (shout out to the power combo of audiobooks + having no life), but this is graphic novel took me 4 days to read because I just... didn't care about anything that was happening. I'm so, so bummed because I really thought I was going to easily 5 star this and the fact that I didn't makes me BIG SAD.
In NO WAY was I even SLIGHTLY ready to say goodbye to my perfect, soft little gay hockey boys. I'm so emotional right now. I wish this series would go on forever, but at the same time, it ended so sweetly and I adored every single damn page of this beautiful book. Not only the cutesy romantic bits and the baking and the hilarity, but also the social commentary on being a queer athlete and coming out to your family, for better or for worse? Ugh. FEELS™.
If you loved Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, you’ll love this graphic novel series
I absolutely loved this two book graphic novel series so much! I related to the main character, since he’s a vlogger too, and he was just so cute and precious! The romance was also one of my favorites! The cast of side characters in here are also great and have many moments of joy and laughter. Overall, I just highly recommend this!
I really enjoyed book one and then book two just RESONATED with me. This was the first time I've seen a queer story that felt close to my own: a junior/senior in college who has accepted their queerness within themselves, out to their friends, and actively dating someone, but hasn't told their family. Putting off telling their family, in fact. It just felt so reflective of my own college experience, the first time I'd ever read a coming out narrative and was like "holy shit, this is just like what happened to me" and not like oh someone who's sixteen and just figured out their sexuality and tells their parents immediately. I called my best friend after reading it and just started crying because it resonated so much with me. I can't BELIEVE everyone has been selling it to me as just "gay hockey" when it's so so so much more.
Check, Please! Book 2: Sticks & Scones gave me all the freaking feels, y’all!!
This graphic novel series was amazing! It was full of fun, emotion, hockey, friendship, love, and baking, plus the struggles of self-acceptance and worrying what others think of you.
Eric “Bitty” Bittle is now a junior at Samwell University and a key player on its hockey team. He’s come a long way since freshman year, when he used to faint if someone rushed to check him!
He’s one of the rulers of the hockey haus now, keeping everyone in line and keeping them full with all of his baking. But he’s also been really distracted, because he and his former teammate, Jack Zimmermann, who is now playing professional hockey in the NHL, have been secretly dating. It’s a challenge to keep their relationship a secret when they’re both so happy, which is making them—particularly Bitty—sad. Should they throw caution to the wind? How will their friends, family, the NHL react?
In addition to that dilemma, Bitty has to help the new players get acclimated, deal with the departure of more of his friends, and when he goes into his senior year, prepare for life after Samwell. What's that going to look like? What is he going to do?
This is such a beautifully drawn, immensely thought-out series. I've been really enjoying the graphic novels I've read in the last year or so, and am so impressed with the complexity of emotions these books evoke. I can’t believe this series is over now, and I hope maybe someday Ngozi Ukazu will give us another glimpse of these characters.
I hear frequently that people aren’t into graphic novels but this series could make you change your mind. I truly loved it!!
Despite many of my favorite characters from book one being less present in this installment (because graduation), I still loved this so much. The friendships, the hockey, the baking, the romance, the near-perfect depiction of the college experience-- this series just nails it on all fronts. I especially appreciated the way Bitty's relationship, and his coming out/going public process, were handled in book two. CHECK, PLEASE! will forever be one of my favorite graphic novel series, and I'm sad it's over!
I started this unsure of where the story was going, and was honestly thrown a little off balance by the tone of it. Once I was back immersed in the world and with my boy Eric, I was happy to be back. I appreciated a lot of the more somber moments in this installments, particularly the moments near the end with the Bittle Fam. I don't think that this is something that I'll ever be able to really talk about rationally, but I am very happy that I was finally able to pick up this anticipated read and that I enjoyed it as much as I did.
2020 initial read: Book 1: Bitty discovers himself Book 2: Bitty announces himself to the world
I'll admit to something mildly bad with this book—I had been staring at it on the tech processing cart for about two weeks, and after a really awful and draining day, I pressured one of the techs to move it up the queue so I could check it out that night. Then I checked out Book 1 as well, told my wife that I was going to have some Bitty therapy, and read until 1 in the morning. The next day was rough, but I felt so much better, because these books are just heartwarming and magical.
After the emotional cliffhanger that was Book 1, I was all in and invested to discover what was going to happen with my favorite pie-baking hockey player. And scared, because I'd grown to love the seniors and didn't want them gone.
The seniors all stay in the picture and there are many more characters that are introduced. There's so much growth and acceptance and I just love the slow breaking down of bro culture and the realization that people are people and who you prefer in the bedroom doesn't make a lick of difference on the court.
Jack and Bitty navigate their secret, long-distance relationship, and it was so sweet, and so tender. Both characters had unique hurdles to face, both internally and externally, and there was also the coming out—to their parents, their teammates, and eventually, to the world—and the realization that if you're the first, you are automatically set up to be the example to everyone else.
I absolutely loved Bitty, and how he brought so much joy and that special something extra to each person he met and touched, just by being himself, unapologetically. I loved that he survived and thrived in bro culture by showing compassion, baking pies with extreme enthusiasm, and making friends—friends who had his back and helped shape a team where he could go from that special something to a leader.
so can we talk about "i've been loving you" i feel deranged honestly completely unhinged and i have read that panel DOZENS of times over these years (it's been like,, three?? four??? years since it was first posted i don't remember time is not real anyWAYS) AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT CHAPTER 10!!!!!!!!! CAN WE!!!!
The second and concluding volume of Ngozi Ukazu's m/m comics series about an elite East coast hockey community such as Yale from which Ukazu graduated. It features Bitty, a once figure skater who makes the hockey team (which involves body "checking" of one's opponent but also alludes to other bodily contact, since this is at base a romance), and his now former captain of the team Jack who has has been hired to skate on a professional hockey team. The other thing to know is that Bitty is a wanna-be chef, primarily of pastries, which leads us to another allusion in the title, to the fact that we expect Bitty to at some point open a pastry shop, but alas, this is the last volume. I reviewed the first volume in greater detail.
So this is a fantasy romance about elites, rich people, somewhat reminiscent of comics series Fence, which is set in all-boy east coast prep school. Check, Please is also almost exclusively a male world. So why should the general public care about a bunch of rich, entitled frat boys? Well, the creators actually make them come alive and then make us care about them, as in Dead Poet's Society, I guess. And we do, though in this one the focus is mostly about both of the young men's teams winning championships, and Bitty's coming out, which makes it a less engaging volume.
Ukazu knew or cared nothing about hockey before she began attending games at Yale, and thought a series about two gay athletes in a macho sport would be intriguing. She researched the hockey sport and culture and lingo, the slang maybe particularly of male East coast upper-class hockey players in that site almost like an ethnographer, and it shows, feels and sounds pretty authentic (not that I know that world) and it seems really well done to me, and charming.
This was cute in many ways, but similar to the first volume, I really did not care for the pacing. Again, we pass through two years of college in under two hundred pages, with very short scenes. Continuity is provided by the narrative voice and the cast of characters (too many, now; I never even learned the names of all the new hockey players). The main character, Bitty, bakes and vlogs and texts or talks on the phone with his long-distance boyfriend.
Coming out is a theme of the series, and how it is not a discrete event, but a series of repeated outings, explanations, interactions, continuing to be stressful even when reactions are not negative. I thought Ukazu did a good job with this point, although I hadn't realized in book 1 that Bitty wasn't out to his parents. One page that I thought was very well-conceived was panels of a smiling Bitty making press conferences as team captain about how tolerant Samwell U was and how everyone supported him, alternating with panels of him crying on the phone with Jack over bullying and slurs.
People who make jam: what are the controversial stances on this craft?
(April 20, 2021) After a year of being in denial that this comic was over, I finally read the last chapter 😭❤️ I don’t know why I was concerned it wouldn’t end well haha
___________ (Mar 17, 2020) UPDATE: Is anyone else concerned about how the comic is going to end? I'm pretty sure there's only time for one more update, and I'm not sure how everything is going to wrap up by then...
----------- (Feb 11, 2020) I am pre-ordering my signed copy and bracing for sadness. I don't want this webcomic to end!
AHHHH! This series is just— spectacular would be an understatement.
I already know that everyone who follows my booktok account will find me insufferable soon (due to my inability to talk about any other book until EVERYONE reads Check, Please!)
I teared up/cried/sobbed over this book maybe…5 times? At LEAST 5 times. It’s seriously so sweet, it has everything you could ever want in a graphic novel. The character development, the (queer) relationship, the side characters, EVERYTHING!
If you take one recommendation of mine, please let it be this one. Go read it!!!!! No excuses!
Now, excuse me while I go download tumblr so I can read all the extra comics the author posts.
There are more characters and storylines to balance in this volume but I still found it absolutely delightful and heartwarming. I would've loved it to be longer and do deeper dives but I know that's not necessarily what webcomics like this do. A good comic when you want to feel a little bit better about the world
I greatly liked the college setting for the positive and wholesome final two years for Bitty that leads to his graduation from Samwell College. Kegsters at the Haus; Hockey players named Whiskey, Tango and Foxtrot; simple hazing ceremonies for incoming Frog players. This was a fun packed graphic book. Lots happening in this final book, and even more between the lines.
The dialogue never stalls in either one of these two books. The pictures are colorful, and the text is plentiful with crisp hand-lettering that is easy to read.
Bitty's Senior year has lots of highlights that I won't spoil. But they involve his phenomenal cooking, growing love-interest, his playoff-hungry ice hockey team, and his parents' understanding of who Bitty really is. Joyous tears will be shed by the reader !
I greatly appreciated the inclusiveness of the entire cast of characters as Bitty's relationship becomes more revealed. This is how it SHOULD be!
I loved this book so much, this is a book I really needed to read right now and has me feeling a lot better. The characters are everything and with the way this story was told it was easy to connect with them. I also liked the way the story was told, because there aren’t a lot of books that try to go for a format of a blog or text. And this was such a great ending to Bitty and his teammates story. It was great to see him and his teammates grow, as well as the relationship between Bitty and Jack. This book has you constantly in your feels especially with its super sweet ending. I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys lgbt+ romances and those who like graphic novels.
This is the second volume of a series, so there might be some spoilers in this review. This story just puts a smile on my face, it is all so adorable! I really liked how open and caring Jack and Bittle were towards each other and I appreciated how they dealt with making their relationship public. Also, I loved Bittle's passion for baking and it never stops to be something sweet and also extremely relatable. I wish there was more to read of this wonderful story!
If y'all could've heard me SCREECHING at this book last night, that would be my review. AND YES I did reread this ALREADY. I have read this book TWICE in LESS THAN 48 hours, it is that good.
SERIOUSLY GO READ THIS RIGHT NOW.
Check, Please! Book 2 starts off in Bitty's junior year at Samwell University. He's been secretly dating Jack, his old hockey team captain, for several months. Jack is also a rising star in the NHL on the Falconers. As the two navigate their lives, they see the real toll being in the closet for Jack takes on them both. And discover how freeing it is to be accepted as they are.
Fuck me I want to reread this already. I honestly cannot tell you HOW UTTERLY PERFECT Bitty and Jack's relationship is. I did not expect to fall so in love with this book, but I'm truly obsessed now. These two talk ALL THE TIME and not just the "hey what's up" crap we see depicted as communication in so many movies/shows/books. The support and compassion they have for each other gives me hope in humanity. The way they support each other when they're feeling anxious/stressed was amazing. I want to cry at how supportive and caring they are. Especially Jack who falls into the more "traditionally masculine" box. We see so much development from Jack with his expression of emotions, not just with Bitty but with his teammates and Shitty. Jack and Shitty's friendship was so wonderful.
This book breaks down toxic masculinity so damn much. The love between Bitty and Jack, the love they have for the Samwell hockey team, the platonic love within the Samwell hockey team, the friendships in the Falconers and just so much more. The only homophobia and toxic behavior comes from people outside of these teams. I wish it wasn't there at all but alas the world is not quite there. But the way the teams handles finding out about Jack and Bitty's relationship is so heartwarming and I loved it. My only criticism is not even related to what the author wrote but society as a whole. After Jack & Bitty come out as dating, so many people in the media and strangers label Jack as gay. That is bi-erasure. Jack never says bisexual on page, but he has dated women before and clearly is attracted to them. He's not gay, he is most likely bisexual (or another identity that falls under this under such as pan, poly, omni etc) and the assumption that two guys together must mean they're both gay needs to die a horrible death. You can't tell someone's sexual orientation or gender identity based on their appearance.
I am honestly HEARTBROKEN this is the last book in this series. I want to see Jack and Bitty living their lives and being happy. I love them so much and seeing their friends' relationships bloom is amazing. We also see another person on the team question their sexuality, and some other sports team captains are introduced as side characters who are openly queer.
Bitty bakes so much and it is adorable. I love how he wins everyone over with pies and jam. He also has to deal with coming out to his parents, which while they don't say anything incredibly homophobic, they do take a bit to adjust to it. However, Bitty's mama, good lord. The amount of times she tells him "we still love you, you can come home no matter what" absolutely broke my heart. This is the kind of parental love and acceptance we need more of. Plus, her relationship with Bitty is just wonderful. I love how much they tell each they love the other and how they both can express emotions with each other. Also, the jam feud was too funny.
The ending was incredibly hopeful, happy and everything I WANTED. You know besides never wanting this series to end of course. I'm ready to go cry about how much I love this book. WHY DID I NOT READ THIS SOONER. Imagine how many times I could've reread this by now had I found it last year. Alas, it shall be rectified soon.
I just can't do it. I was trying to slog through this for a week and a half and only got through 30%. I want to acknowledge that I do reeeeeally enjoy the characters and so much of this graphic novel. But it is too long and for some reason it takes forever to read. I really want to know what happens in the end but I don't want to have to read it. Make sense?